February 25, 2022 • By Ed Wrather
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. – Ephesians 4:29 NKJV.
The NIV puts this as: 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.
The Message has it as: Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
In Freeport, Pennsylvania with a population of 1,700 they were finally able to hire a new police chief. The person hired was the only one who applied for the position. His first duties were to hire two police officers. Apparently, the entire force had left for some reason prior to this. The next morning after the new police chief was hired, they found a handwritten letter along with keys stating his resignation. It is not clear as to the reasons for the resignation.
I had a friend who was the pastor of a nearby church many years ago. It was his first pastorate. The people arrived for worship one Sunday to find a note on the pulpit simply stating that he quit. I am not sure what has happened to him.
At a church I was at some years ago I was told about a previous pastor who announced in an evening service that he was leaving. The next morning, he had rented a U-Haul truck and was loading up everything out of the parsonage.
In the oilfield in the 1970s it was a frequent occurrence to hear of an entire drilling crew or sometimes just an individual walking off from the job. It was said that they had “twisted off.” Personally, I have only “twisted off” from a job one time and that was while I was in the oilfield. It was not on a drilling rig location, but prior to leaving to take an inspection unit to a rig.
A new salesman cussed me out in front of my crew, why? I didn’t know at the time except that I thought that they wanted me to leave for some reason. So, I left. I was 30 years old at the time. I borrowed some money with my Dad’s help and started my own company.
The truth is that you can push people too far and they may “twist off” or worse. In my situation I believe God used it for good to eventually lead me in another direction with my life.
In every area of interpersonal relations our words matter. As the Message indicates, as it translates Ephesians 4:29, words can be a gift. It is also clear that words can be a curse.
Words are especially important between parents and children and in Ephesians 6:4 we are told “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” I do regret some of the words that I have said to my sons and if I could take those words back and replace them with kinder gentler words I would. But that is the thing with words, once said, they have been said and there is no way to unsay them. However, we can apologize. We can ask for forgiveness. We can pray and ask for help to do better in the future.
Before you say the words that will push someone off of a figurative cliff, see if there might be a better choice of words. Because words can be a gift, and they can be a curse.