Words are the most powerful weapon known to man. With them we can lift the spirits of the downtrodden, make someone feel loved and appreciated, or start wars and destroy relationships. Our words have a powerful impact on the church. Congregations can be torn apart by slanderous and vindictive speech and built up by words of encouragement and appreciation. This is behind Paul’s command in Ephesians 4:29 to let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
“Corrupt” speech is speech that is rotten and worthless. James used the word in James 5:2 when he said “Your riches are corrupted…” Jesus used the word several times to refer to rotten fruit (Matt. 7:17-18; 12:33). A bushel of rotten apples serves no good purpose, and the same must be said for rotten words. As Christians, we must be mindful of what we say and what effect our words may have on those who hear them. Rotten language in daily communication will harm our influence and our ability to convert souls to Christ. In the church, our speech may discourage brethren, hinder the work, or drive a wedge between fellow members. Note that rotten speech per Ephesians 4:29 is not just filthy language. It is any kind of speech that causes harm.
Take a moment and reflect on your speech. Is it rotten? Are your words helping to build up the church or are they causing harm? How can your words best be used for edification? May God help us to strengthen the body of Christ through healthy, wholesome, edifying words.