May 27, 2008

How We Talk Tells Who We Are

Ephesians 4:29-32

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful …
Ephesians 4:29


Years ago a college student came to talk to me about his dad. He said, “If you were to spend some time at our house, you would not recognize my dad. When he talks, he constantly puts us down. My mother is a nervous wreck because of the way he talks to her and to the rest of us.”

This story is not unique. Some of us pride ourselves in speaking the truth, but we overlook Paul’s command to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Far too often, our timing is off! A husband may come home and the first words out of his mouth may be “This place is a mess. What have you been doing all day?” Or a wife may greet her husband with the words “Where have you been? Did you take care of that problem I told you about this morning?”

At home and at work we need to learn to speak the truth in love and to say only “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ask yourself, “Do I really have to say what I’m about to say? And should I say it now? Will it build the other person up?”

Some of us need to ask the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues and to help us talk to each other the way we should. When we do, our homes will be much happier places to live in.

“Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Keep us from unwholesome talk, we pray, and help us to build others up. Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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