“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear” Eph 4:29. Words that edify, words that build up are words that “meet the need of the moment”. And words that meet the need of the moment are words that deliver “grace to those who hear”.
We often think of grace as a theological concept or only related to salvation. But grace is a practice and a way of life. We all face crossroads in our interaction with each other where we have a choice to make. Are we going to offer grace or deliver condemnation? Are we going to speak words of life or words of death?
Jesus came to earth “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Jesus personified grace. Jesus exemplified grace in practice. And one of the ways Jesus delivered grace was through His words of life. In John chapter 6, Peter affirms that Jesus has the words of life. And I believe these words were not just words of eternal life; but words of affirming life as well.
When we speak to our spouse, our children, our friends; do we extend words of life or death? Do we give life to someone’s thoughts? Do we give life to someone’s feelings? Do we give life to someone’s dreams?
Or do we deliver death to a dream (“that will never happen”), or death to a thought (“you are wrong in thinking that”), or death to a feeling (“you shouldn’t feel that way”)? Words that extend grace and meet the need of the moment are life-affirming, relationship-affirming, and value-affirming.
Does that mean our words are always rosy? Does that mean we never use words of correction or disagreement? Not at all. Words that graciously meet the need of the moment can be just that; words of correction or disagreement.
What makes these words gracious is how we communicate them. It means correcting our children in ways that demonstrate respect rather than shame. When we correct our kids, we need to always make clear, “You have made a mistake.” But we never say or imply, “you ARE a mistake.” We can say, “You have done something wrong.” But never, “you ARE something wrong.”
With our spouse, it means disagreeing in ways that demonstrate respect not dismissiveness. It means communicating in ways that seek to understand each other’s view. Early in our marriage, my communication style was more about convincing Rhonda that I was right rather than understanding her thoughts. By God’s grace, Rhonda and I are moving forward in hearing each other. And it makes our words life-affirming even in the hard discussions.
The choice is in your hands. Words that affirm, edify, and build up or words that harm, squash, and destroy. The decision is up to you.