Last week we looked at how we are to walk, today we’ll look at how we TALK.
A quick reading of James 3 is an eye opener to the dangers of an uncontrolled tongue. There it’s called a, “fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (Jas 3:6)
Even under ideal conditions, it’s often difficult to communicate.
This is serious business. Not only is it difficult to find the right thing to say, it’s equally difficult to say it the right way.
Paul gives some instruction about our communication in Ephesians 4:29.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Three things are Immediately seen. 1) no corrupt speech, 2) rather, edifying speech, and 3) speech that may minister grace to the hearer. The last 2 are somewhat easy; we are to speak those things that will teach (edify) and those things that are a blessing, or helpful (grace). But what is corrupt communication? Not surprisingly, the scripture has a lot to say about what we say.
Firstly, we ought to be careful about COMPLAINING. “Do all things without murmurings and questionings:” (Phil 2:14-15) We’re not discussing the type of communication that tries to right wrongs. We are talking about complaining that is sinful. The OT shows us what happens when we complain against God (Num 11:1). Complaining to people that cannot improve a condition is ungodly and borders on gossip. Rather, we should communicate to others our CONTENTMENT. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.” (Phil 4:11).
A second type of corrupt communication is OVER TALKING. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not transgression; But he that refraineth his lips doeth wisely.” (Prov 10:19). Instead, we ought to be ORDERLY & SLOW to speak. “But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:” (Jas. 1:19 cf. 1:26
We all know the warnings about REPEATING & RECEIVING Gossip. (Prov 20:19; 11:13; 2Cor. 12:20; 1Tim 5:13) Instead of repeating gossip, how about we REPORT good things about our brethren. Look at chapter 16 of Romans for a list where Paul is giving a good REPORT of some fine men & women.
Then there’s the warning from Christ. “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.” (Matt 5:22) “RACA” is a form of contempt toward another. Literally it means, “o empty one; thou worthless.” Instead, we should say words that have REGARD for the other person; esteeming them better than self (Phil 2:3).
Then there are words that are UNLOVING and divisive. (Job 19:19; Rom 1:31; 2Tim 3:3). Instead, we ought to seek words of UNITY (Eph 4:13). Not unity in tolerance of sin, but “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph 4:3)
Looking again at James, we see there are words that are POISONOUS. “It (the tongue) is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (3:8). Instead, we can be PLEASING in speech & PROVOKE to love. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” (Heb 10:24; Prov 15:26; 16:24)
Lastly, there are words that is TALKING FOOLISHLY. These are crude humor and indecent language. Paul instructs us to replace these with words of THANKS. “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” (Eph 5:4)
This article was very thought provoking for me. It’s very easy to get caught up in using the words of our culture, on our TV’s and in the workplace. I’m unable to speak for you, but for me, CORRUPT communication is very much the norm among those in the world and it’s so easy to be influenced by it. I’ll strive to do better so that my words do not give occasion to the enemies of God to blaspheme.
Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.