Category Archives: Wholesome Speech

3 Truths about Trash-Talk

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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.

Related Scripture:

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)

 

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Lead With Your Ears

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“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends:
Lead with your ears,
follow up with your tongue,
and let anger straggle along in the rear.”
James 1:19 (MSG)

 

Ears Lead

 
 

Wouldn’t it be great if these valuable directions were posted as constant reminders at all the intersections?  How many times could difficult situations be avoided if we simply kept certain thoughts to ourselves?

Speaking the right words at the appropriate time is important, but so is restraining our desire to say what we shouldn’t, because once words are spoken, they can’t be un-spoken or erased. An uncontrolled tongue spewing idle or hateful verbiage is divisive and damaging. A few angry words can destroy relationships that might have taken years to develop, so sifting words through a filter of love before they are released from our mouths is a crucial practice.

I’ve often heard the quote, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” and I’m sure if we all listened twice as much as we spoke, all of our relationships would be much better off, and anger would be in our rearview mirrors.

Remember:  What we say is important, but so is what we don’t say.

        • The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint” Proverbs 17:27a (NIV)
        • “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19 (NIV)
        • “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b

Say it Forward

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good morning suwanee

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,

but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29 KJV

Words are powerful.  The right words spoken at the right time can bring about a glorious sunrise in someone’s soul.  You never know when one encouraging comment can set someone’s life back on course and turn them in the direction of God’s destiny for their future…or even their eternity!    Positive words are powerfully uplifting, while negative, corrupt words are powerfully destructive.   Do your words “minister grace” to those with whom you communicate?

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.  Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

King Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who ever lived, said this about our words, “What you say can mean life or death.  Those who speak with care will be rewarded.” Proverbs 18:21 (NCV)  “The tongue has the power of life and death…”  Proverbs 18:21a(NIV)  Anything that has the power of life or death is serious business!  Allow this truth to penetrate your mind and heart, and realize that careless words spoken in moments of frustration or anger can have devastating effects.  Encouraging, uplifting and inspiring words can have the effect of a refreshing rain shower on a drought stricken land. 

Thoughtless words cut deeply like a thrusting sword, but the speech of the wise is a healing balm.  

Proverbs 12:18 (VOICE)

Try this “word edification experiment” today:  Focus on your communication with others, and only allow yourself to speak words that will build up and bless those around you.  Consider this a day in which you are a “minister of grace” to all who hear you speak…your spouse, children, co-workers, store clerks, waiters, receptionists, bank tellers, and anyone else with whom you might come in contact.  If you are a teacher, coach, parent, manager, boss, minister, team captain, or any other kind of leader, you are in a unique position to inspire those individuals whom you lead.   For some of us this experiment may be extremely challenging, but at the end of the day take note, not only of how you feel inside, but also your perception of how others responded to your edifying words.  Similar to the “Pay it Forward” project in which one good deed for another can start a ripple effect of kindness around the world, this “Say it Forward” project could start a ripple effect of encouragement and inspiration around your community and beyond. (Imagine if our world leaders became part of this movement?!)  Your kind, uplifting words to another might prompt them to speak kind words to someone else, and so on.  If enough people embrace this experiment, we could witness the transformational power of grace in exponential proportions!  

Remember, “What you say can mean life or death.  Those who speak with care will be rewarded.”  Let your words be a blessing to others.  Not only will you build them up, but you will also be rewarded in ways you could never imagine.  So get started with this “word edification experiment” and Say it Forward

My Lips are Concealed

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My Lips are Concealed


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

But only what is helpful for building others up

According to their needs,

That it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV, ©2010)

 

I rummaged through my purse in the seat next to me as I sat waiting for the traffic light to turn green. My lips were dry and cracking from the bitterly cold conditions, and I was trying to find my chap stick for quick relief. The light turned green, and traffic began to move. With my eyes now on the road, I kept blindly feeling for the tiny tube as I accelerated with the flow of cars.

Instead of the Chap Stick, I came upon what I thought was my lip gloss. Thankful for anything that could provide relief to my irritated lips, I grabbed the tube from the bottom of my purse. Still watching the road ahead, I unscrewed the cap and used the sponge applicator to rub the moist balm on my mouth.

At the next traffic light, I looked in the rear view mirror to check my application of lip gloss. Something did not feel quite right, and I wondered what was wrong. To my surprise, when I looked in the mirror I realized that I had applied ivory toned concealer instead of lip gloss. My lips were now the same color as the skin surrounding them!

As I looked for a tissue to wipe away my mistake, I thought about the fact that sometimes it would be best if my lips really were concealed, or better yet – sealed! I recalled many times when being silent would have been a much better choice than speaking my mind. The reflection in my mirror reminded me that I frequently speak harshly to my husband or children and say things to them that I would never say to others outside my home. When stressed or frustrated, I submit to the urge to “say the last word” during an argument. More often than not the “last word” should be eliminated from my vocabulary. There are other times when the problem might be the tone I use to speak to my loved ones; in other words, it’s not what I say, but rather how I say it.

The Bible has many lessons on how we should talk to others and the types of conversations we should be having with them. Here are a few verses to meditate upon concerning our speech:

 

  • Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning… Proverbs 10:13

  • When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19

  • The lips of the righteous nourish many…Proverbs 10:21

  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

  • He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23

  • A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11

  • But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. Matthew 12:36

If we all hit the pause button on our lips and think about these instructions, we can live more harmoniously with our families, friends, co-workers, acquaintances…even strangers who cross our paths. More importantly, our testimony will not be tarnished by the use of careless words. Stop and think about the visual of “concealed lips” before you snap back with a quick response to someone in your “line of fire.” Use words that build up, rather than tear down.  You never know when your kind words may be life-changing for someone.  Choose to sow peace with your words, rather than anger.

…my lips are concealed. J