Sunday, 05 October 2008 00:00

Apples of Gold: Edifying Speech

Ephesians 4:29-30 (ESV)

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.

As we continue our look at the kinds of speech that are like "apples of gold" we come to the kind of talk that characterizes God's people and differentiates us from non-Christians. "The use of our tongues is sure evidence of the state of our hearts" Sinclair Ferguson.

  1. The natural tendency is for words of decay to come out of our mouths.
    "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth" (v.29). Notice two things in this:
    1. "Corrupting talk" translates a word that means "rotten."
      The Greek word sapros is a rather foul word. It is only used a couple of other times besides here (Luke 6:43; Matthew 7:17) and each time it is used it refers to something rotten or decayed, as in rotten fruit, rotten fish, and rotten words. Rotten words are those "disconnected from the Spirit," "too abundant in supply," and those words that are corrupted by the outside stimuli of a corrupt world.
    2. "Corrupting talk" erupts from within and must be stopped.
      "Let no corrupting talk come out..." You don't produce it, you must stop it. This is true of even that soul that has been graced (Romans 7); it is a battle. "When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable" (Proverbs 10:19).
  2. The Spirit is at work within us to ensure words of design are spoken by us.
    It's not enough to simply stop corrupting speech; we're called to speak with a design.
    1. Words designed for the building up of others—"such as is good for building up."
      The Greek word oikodomeo means "to build up a house." The character and soul of another can be crushed and destroyed—or built up. Some have confused flattery with words of edification. They are two completely different things. Flattery is given with the aim of personal gain; edification is unselfish and good.
    2. Words designed to fit the occasion"such as fits the occasion."
      Our attempts at edification must be appropriate to the occasion and to the person. For this to occur, we must take an interest in people's lives, ask them questions, listen to their answers, and show genuine concern. We are not to comfort the idle; we should not admonish the fainthearted; and we should not ignore the weak.
    3. Words designed to give grace to those who hear"that it may give grace."
      What is grace? If anything, it is a word of favor to the person who is undeserving.
  3. The grieving of the Spirit occurs when you give in to rash words of decay.
    Paul is showing that the use of our words does not just harm or build up people; but that through the harming or building up of people, there is a spiritual reality as well. We are either delighting or grieving God as we enter the battle regarding our words. It is noteworthy that grieving God's Spirit has more to do wiht words than actions. This simply means that a church, a family or a small group may have everything together in terms of religiously—giving, serving, etc.—but the Spirit is grieved. The Bible does not say, "Do not make the Spirit angry." It says "Do not grieve..." You can only grieve because you love. (Consider today your words and the Spirit's love.)

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