Christmas holidays can be a wonderful season but often is the opposite. You have more free time to spend with each other which can lead to arguments. You spend too much money which leads to anxiety and depression. Dinners, parties and family gatherings that you feel obligated to attend place you in environments that are uncomfortable and even unsafe. You may have unresolved bitterness and languishing unforgiveness with the folks that you are expected to have meaningful, positive conversation. You may have high expectations that end up leading to hurtful and confusing disappointments.
Relative to above, I would like to camp out this week and next week in a powerful passage towards the end of Ephesians chapter 4. Let’s begin the discussion today with verse 29. Many behavioral experts declare that 75% of relationships would be healed if both parties lived out this verse. 29 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 (NIV).
Let’s break this verse down into its three logical parts:
- “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”. “Unwholesome” is a hurtful, divisive word. This word suggests fractious (not whole), corrupting, grumpy, grouchy, ill-tempered, ill-humored talk. Another way of saying this is “let only wholesome talk come out of your mouth. “Whole” is healing and encouraging.
- “But only what is helpful for building up others up according to their needs.” This section of the verse encourages us to focus on the listener and not myself. And, it states that our aim is to build up the other. Man, that’s hard to do! During Christmas holidays, I want others to know who I am and especially my accomplishments which is the opposite of what this verse says. Build up the other not you “according to their needs.” This does not mean empty, superficial words. If you focus on listening (active listening), you will discover what the other person’s needs and goals are. “Building up others” occurs when you listen with care.
- “That it may benefit those who listen.” You listen first then you speak in a way that benefits the other. ESV states this way, “that it may give grace to those who hear.” A word of grace is uplifting, edifying, gentle and peace-making. It creates an environment where the Holy Spirit loves to hang-out.
Go back over this verse and simply pray it out-loud. “Lord, let no unwholesome word come out of my mouth, but only what is beneficial to the building up of others according to their needs that it may benefit them.” No trash talkin’! Amen.