May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NIV)
God often uses ordinary events to teach His children valuable lessons, and this particular lesson involves something extra-ordinary: garbage. More specifically…rotten garbage.
Our normal trash collection day is Monday. But a couple of weeks ago, garbage pick-up was suspended due to tropical storm warnings from Hurricane Irma. By the time the next collection day rolled around, the rancid stench from the two-week old trash was over-powering.
I knew it was exceptionally awful when my son (who seems oblivious to bad smells) commented about the odor. He took out the trash from our kitchen and came back in yelling, “Mom! Something’s ROTTEN in the garbage can!”
Those words reverberated loudly in my ears the next morning when I read Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t let even one ROTTEN WORD seep out of your mouths…” I flashed back to a moment a few weeks before in the car when my son was driving on the highway. Traffic up ahead was stopping — but he was not slowing down. As we zoomed toward the rear end of a flat-bed tractor-trailer, words spewed out of my mouth that shocked both of us.
He quickly slowed the car to a stop and looked over at me in the passenger seat with his jaw dropped open in disbelief. The noxious words filled our car with a foul aroma — a lingering odor that polluted our relationship for days. A simple, “Stop the car — Now!” would have worked, but I dug down deep in the garbage pit instead for my expletives. Not a proud mom-moment at all.
As I continued to read Ephesians 4:29, these words pierced my heart, “Instead only offer FRESH WORDS that build others up when they need it the most.” The trash-talk that seeped out of my mouth was far from “fresh” and did nothing to build up my son.
I immediately went to “clear the air” with him and asked him to forgive me for not only letting the rotten words flow, but also for allowing the atmosphere to become putrid between us over time. I shared with him how his description of the smelly garbage opened my eyes (and my nose!) to what my foul language had done in the car that day. I promised to aim for using only good words to communicate grace.
Now every time I take out the garbage, I am reminded of these lessons, and I hope they can serve as reminders to you, too :
Trash-Talk Truths from a Trash Can
- Rotten words pollute and corrupt.
- Fresh words build others up.
- Good words communicate Grace.
The words we speak…or text, write, post, tweet or email..have the power to build up or tear down. So many harmful words are communicated today in haste, whether from our lips or our keyboard. If we simply pause and think before we speak, we can prevent careless words from slipping off our tongues or the keys of our keyboard. Likewise, by withholding harmful words, we can prevent the malodorous consequences they may cause.
Use the power of words to build others up when they need it the most. Make each word a gift — our words may be the only glimpse of God’s Grace that others hear.
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 (NIV)
The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words. Proverbs 15:28 (NLT)