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. (Ephesians 4:29)
Were you ever thrilled that someone became a Christian and stopped cussing?
Great, they don’t use any of George Carlin’s 7 forbidden words any more.
But which is easier—to stop cussing or to become someone who knows how to build people up?
Don’t you hate it when you’ve been gone a couple days and you open your refrigerator and you are overwhelmed by the stench of rotten fish? The Greek word for “unwholesome” in today’s verse is Saprós, which means putrid and rotten. But if you think about it, you realize that we can say stuff that is putrid and rotten without using any cuss words. We can use clean language while simultaneously ripping someone to shreds with gossip and slander.
So, what is the opposite of this kind of trash talk? Do we wash our mouths out with soap? By washing our mouths out with soap, I mean we might be able by sheer force of willpower, to hold ourselves back from using those cuss words. After all, people in church expect us to clean up our act. But this wouldn’t automatically lead to edifying and encouraging talk. What we really need to see is:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:14-15)
I like that we are captives of Christ. Without being Christ’s captive, we really are just washing our mouths out with soap. But it’s different when, empowered and captivated by Jesus, we refuse to let crudeness, viciousness or slander come out of our mouths, and instead replace it with being a sweet aroma—what a wonderful opposite to the smell of stinking fish!