In this article, we'll learn a bit about communicating with each other without worthless words.
In Ephesians 4:29, it says to not let unwholesome (foul, profane, worthless, vulgar) words ever come out of your mouth. Now, I don't know about you, but after a beer with some male friends on a boys night out, some foul words come out. Ya know what I mean?
But that's not what we're talking about here. We're not talking about some friends letting slip some f-bombs. We're talking about how a man can build a person up. Building people up. Blessing people with words that strengthen them up is a clear sign of a mature man, particularly when the words are specific, encouraging, thoughtful, or insightful words that need to be heard. Ephesians 4:29 is a spiritual truth from which to learn how to use speech that is good for the building up of others according to the need and the occasion. And there's a purpose for this type of communication. The purpose is to construct your words in such a way that they will be a blessing to those who hear you speak. Have you ever been in a conversation at a party, and you're talking with one or two other people. Then slowly you notice that a few others start to lean into your circle of conversation, and they start to listen to what you have to say, and you see others start to nod and smile as you speak in agreement. This is a moment that you see the importance of letting no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.
Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
It's a Powerful Way to Live
Doesn’t this sound like a powerful way to live? As mature men, we want our mouths to speak that which is good. In the context of (or in the verses surrounding) Ephesians 4:29 are two verses that give us specific advice on how to do this. Ephesians 4:31 tells us what kind of communication to NOT communicate, to not use in conversation with others, to “put away." Ephesians 4:32 shows us what we can become.
What should we "put away?" Ephesians 4:31 says, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." Let's look at this verse word by word.
Bitterness in this spiritual truth means like a poison. When something is bitter, it's sharp and stinging. Words can sting. Like a bad bee sting. They can't kill you, but man! they can hurt. Bitterness can build up in our thoughts and minds when problems go unresolved or when we hold onto grudges. When we have problems in our minds, our words are problematic. Therefore, we need to pay attention to our words, solve outstanding problems and issues with others, and "put away" bitter, stinging words.
Put away wrath. Wrath in this verse is like anger. Wrath can flare up like a flame. Anger can come out of us particularly when we feel tired. Therefore, get make sure you get some good sleep every night.
Anger used in this verse means indignation which has arisen gradually. It's like a lasting resentment. Prolonged and deep-seated anger needs to be resolved. Pray, ask for help from a spouse, consult with someone else, get help from a trusted friend or maybe even a professional therapist. To communicate well with others, we need to resolve all anger that's within ourselves.
Clamour is an outcry. Ever notice a loud, unruly man who speaks aggressively in a boisterous, brawling manner of speech. This is clamour. We want to put away this type of behavior. No one truly values an out-of-order, loud mouth. Those words are not graceful or good to the use of edifying, so we put them away.
Evil speaking is in reference to slanderous speech that is injurious to another person's good name. A spiritually mature man does not want to purposely injure another. But it can happen if we do not pay attention, if we are not mindful, of the words we speak. Therefore, think about what you say in reference to others. Speak well of others.
Malice indicates having ill will or a desire to injure someone or see them suffer. Simply, we are to put away all malice.
Out of the Heart and Buddha
Jesus taught that the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. The Buddha taught others about using the right kind of speech. By speaking kind and helpful words, we can become respected and trusted by others. Using the right type of speech is one of the noble eightfold paths of enlightenment that he taught. And using the right speech ultimately helps others to end their suffering. And what is the right type of speech? The Buddha taught others to abstain from using words that were lies, divisive, abusive, and idle chatter. This he called "right speech."
I agree. And this all seems to be truthful and helpful.
But Ephesians 4:32 says, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32 shows us what we want to become by using good, right communication to others. We are to be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.
Become Kind One to Another
Kind as it's used here means good, gracious, and easy. It carries the sense of being mild or pleasant as opposed to being harsh, hard, sharp, or bitter. When we are kind, we are actively doing good in spite of someone else's behavior. When we are kind, endorphins in our brains are released. Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort and bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. Kindness gets you high.
Love is Kind
The love of God is kind, as I Corinthians 13:4 teaches us. And gentleness or kindness is a fruit of our spirit (Galatians 5:22). Kindness is spiritual in nature. The sign of a spiritually-mature man is one who is kind to others.
Tenderhearted and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Tenderhearted requires compassion. To be tenderhearted to others means being benevolent, empathic, and showing mercy. We should show, conduct, and express compassion to one another. And in doing so, we become tenderhearted. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, founder of Naropa and Shambhala Mountain Center, taught that the foundation of fearlessness of a warrior king is when that man renounces his hard-heartedness and allows himself to be tender, open, exposed, and fully present. A warrior king is careful to not enclose himself with a thick impenetrable armour, but allows himself to be open, soft, and sensitive.
It can seem very difficult to be forgiving, but Ephesians 4:32 doesn’t stop at “forgiving one another.” The verse continues with “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” What does that mean? It means that for a man to become forgiving to another person, he must recognize that something greater than himself, the ultimate spirit of love, as has forgiven him in this ongoing process of life. We exist because of love and love keeps going. Like a river that flows. If someone has done you wrong, ask, "What's next?" Just as as the river flows, you have changed. You're no longer who you were before reading these words. And so, if you are to forgive others, you must understand that there's other processes in place that make that much easier than you think.
As we put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and all malice and become kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another, the natural result (the fruit that grows outwardly from the tree) will be words that are good to the use of edifying and words that minister grace to the hearer. This is an abundant and powerful way to live.
I hope you find this as some good advice for thinking, living and loving better. If you enjoyed reading this, you may want to check out "To Bring Suffering to an End, One Must Think."
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