Today’s verse: Ephesians 4: 29 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.
Years ago, during an unfortunate first marriage that stretched out for too many years, I was routinely verbally abused. To me, the words cut deep and left a lasting scar. For example, I was often treated to such delightful statements as my cooking was terrible, my butt was too flabby, my sewing skills were laughable, my choice in clothing was pathetic, and even my breath smelled like dog poop! worked like a dog to try and please him, but always remained overworked and under-appreciated.
Thirty years later, after a divorce and re-marriage, I still worry obsessively about these things. Every time someone offers me gum or mints, I cringe and wonder if they are offended by my breath, although my close family tells me that my breath is harmless. The worries about my cooking skills and my sewing skills paralyze me sometimes. And as for that flabby butt, I’ll spend the rest of my life at the gym trying to firm it up!
Does he ever think about what he did to me? Do we ever think about the effect our words have on others? Sometimes even a careless word is enough to send someone into a depression or worry. It can shake someone’s self -confidence and make them feel less worthy. It can be so hurtful, even when we don’t mean it to be. Sometimes we lash out at our spouses, or our children, and we hurt them without even knowing it. The hurt can be lasting, and lead to depression, bad habits, acting out, or worse. The loss of self esteem is so harmful to our health. We need to be so careful about what we say and how we say it.
The reverse of using hateful words is true. Words of kindness can build someone up, help their self-esteem, and give them confidence. Sometimes someone just telling me they like my dress, or my haircut, or my shoes can make my day. I feel better, stand taller, and feel more confident for the rest of the day. Words work wonders to lift up spirits and make someone feel like a champ instead of a chump. It is better to show appreciation for small acts of kindness, rather than having someone overworked and under appreciated.
The Bible has many verses about hurtful words, gossip and slander. It advises us against all of this, and tells us to use our words to build someone up. We all need to remember that Jesus wants us to love one another. Loving means words of kindness and support, even when it is hard to do. Being strong in our faith helps us to be kind. Being kind helps us to be better Christians, and lead others to the light.