8/18 Ephesians 4:20-32
What we put on or even more appropriately in the case of our speech, what we put in, can make all the difference in what comes out.
One of the unfortunate recurring faux pas of our foot-in-mouth culture is our overzealous need to ask women, ‘When are you due?’ – before we know for certain that they are in fact pregnant. This can be an irretrievable moment if they are in fact not pregnant. In reality, that is just a well intentioned, albeit over-eager mistake, just trying to demonstrate interest and care for the woman with no intended harm.
What Paul is concerned with when he says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth…”, is more the words we use that harm and hurt others.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth…” How do we make sure this does not happen? It’s starts with realizing that they come from a heart not being regularly renewed.
Like the Capital One commercial asks, “What’s in your wallet?”, the answer lies in this similar question: What’s in your heart? Are you treasuring what is good in your heart? If so, good words will find their way to the tip of your tongue. And what’s on the tip of our tongue, usually does come out.
Don’t know what to say? Then stick to and treasure the motto: “a closed mouth gathers no foot.” It may save you (and others) some pain. But seriously it is sobering to heed Jesus’ warning on this in Matthew 12:35-37. Our words do matter greatly and it’s not just a matter of changing speech patterns. If it were that easy, political candidates wouldn’t have a continual flow of verbal gaffes.
The answer goes deeper - deeper within. In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commands that we be “filled with the Spirit”. This is not the only time Paul makes this exhortation. He does so often. Why are we to be filled often? Why not once and done? Mostly because it’s actually an ongoing need. We need refilling just as a car needs refilling with petrol. It is one way we demonstrate our dependence and reliance on God. Plus, when we are full on the inside, there is no room for other junk to get in there, junk that will inevitably come out, sometimes at the most inopportune of times. If we’re filled with good thoughts, plans, attitudes, etc. all that is excellent, (Philippians 4:8), then that’s what will come out of our mouths. Make the source good and the fruit will be good James says (James 3:11,12)
Continuing with Paul’s thought in Ephesians 5, if we’re filled with the Spirit, we’re giving thanks, we’re making melody with our hearts to the Lord, we’re speaking to one another in encouraging tones and words… it all comes back to, not merely thinking before you speak, but asking, “What’s filling you?” BEFORE you speak.
Come to the Lord today with this prayer: “Fill ‘er up!”