“Put Off Corrupting Talk – Build Up and Give Grace”Categories: Christian life, edification, gossip, speech, truth
As we near the end of Paul’s list of things to take off and put on from Ephesians 4.25–32, we arrive at this passage:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4.29–30)
Some talk corrupts truth, corrupts beauty, corrupts reputations.
One destructive form of speech is gossip, which is talk behind someone’s back with the intent of painting them in a bad light. Gossip is not motivated by love; the gossiper is not trying to aid or encourage the target of conversation. Perhaps she gossips just to score points with her hearer, who hangs on to every juicy word. Perhaps she envies those she talks about and so speaks of their faults whenever possible. At the root of gossip lies a bent and selfish heart.
Slander is closely related to gossip, comprising falsehoods intended to smear a person’s name.
Backbiting involves returning evil for evil, which we are told never to do (Rom. 12.17). Picture a dog whirling around to snarl and snap at another that nipped him.
Boasting is almost the opposite of gossip. Instead of tearing someone down by focusing on their faults, the boaster builds himself up by focusing only on his strong points, often inflating reality in the process.
Sadly, filthy language pervades our society. In Ephesians 5.4, Paul writes, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Never should filthy talk pass our lips. Filthy talk comes from filthy minds. Never should we tell a crude joke or gush foolishness. This includes “potty mouth” language, when we use words which describe baser bodily functions and toss them flippantly into sentences. There are times and places when some of these words are useful and proper. Turds  belong in the toilet and a bitch is a female dog, but how often are those words used properly? The world uses “ass” in disgustingly versatile ways. Jokes about sex and sexual acts demean men and women and throw what is lovely into the garbage.
Profanity uses words which describe holy things in flippant, common, and sometimes blatantly unholy ways. For instance, using “God” or “Jesus” or “holy” in flippant ways devalues our Lord and what is truly holy. Hopefully, we use those words often in good and right ways, but we should take care not to profane what is holy, like the world constantly does.
Instead of tearing people down, we should build them up.
Instead of speaking what is out of place, we should speak what fits the occasion.
Instead of speaking filthiness, foolishness, or crudeness, we should give grace to our hearers.
“If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man” (James 3.2). “How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” (James 3.5–6).
You have much power in that little tongue of yours. Will you edify or demolish? Will you give grace or maintain malice? Will you reply with a soft answer or a harsh word? We make this choice many times a day, and it’s a choice that has consequences!
As a final admonition, Paul finishes with, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Corrupting speech grieves God’s Holy Spirit. How often do we grieve him? Let us strengthen our hearts, ask for God’s help, and work on controlling our tongues—to the praise of his glory!
 Microsoft Word flagged the word “turd” and informed me “This word may be offensive to your reader.” Indeed.