Years back, while reading Ephesians, this verse paused my devotions …
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. — Ephesians 4:29 (NASB)
The phrase ‘give grace to those who hear’ was an intense moment. I realized that my conversational habits were negative. When others talked to me, they didn’t leave feeling like they had been uplifted by grace.
I was taking and not giving a gift in my conversations.
I was too self-seeking, cynical, and sarcastic. I excelled at witty put-downs. I knew how to manipulate a conversation, turning what someone else said around for my self-glory. I did it smoothly and hardly anyone noticed. Except of course my wife, who would give me her ‘you did it again’ look.
To annul my ‘Self Talk’, I developed the following ‘Grace Talk’ guidelines …
- Open with a positive. I had developed the habit of beginning most conversations with a joke or snide remark about the other person. They were funny comments, they had to laugh, and others laughed. It wasn’t edifying. Listen carefully in your conversations today: note how many people start with a negative. I now start with a positive — about the other person, about what God is doing, even mentioning nice weather is a positive. (Especially in Ohio! Oops a negative just slipped in.)
- I listen to them and also to the Spirit within me. Each conversation is a gift from God. You are to learn and be blessed or you are to speak blessings. In every conversation — if you listen to the Spirit within — there will be a God-Moment. That’s it! This is what God’s doing now Moment! Encourage, receive, plant seeds of righteousness, speak peace, and sometimes rebuke. Grace Talk forcefully resists demeaning comments.
- End with grace. The final sentence should be a gift to build up. Whenever you say at the end of a conversation: “Thank you” … “You can do this” … “This is God’s plan for you” … “You encouraged me today” … “Let me pray for you now”. You are ending the conversation with grace.
Below is my Old Guy’s Version of Ephesians 4:29. Paul used some interesting Greek when he wrote the verse. The word ‘unwholesome’ can also be translate ‘rotten’; word in this verse is logos which is used to describe Jesus in the Gospel of John (In the beginning was the ‘word’); ‘edification’ in the time of Paul was also used to signify building a house or home; and ‘grace’ can mean gift.
Let’s translate Ephesians 4:29 together …
Let no rotten words come out of your mouth, but words like Jesus — that heal in the moment and build relationships for the future — so that your words are a gift of grace (favor) to those who listen. (OGV)