“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Ephesus, and all Christians everywhere, to put off their old sinful pre-converted desires and behavior, be renewed in their minds through the Word of God, and to put on their new regenerated behavior. This new self is characterized by holiness in desire and righteousness in behavior.
What exactly does righteous and holy behavior look like in our everyday world and culture? It is at this point that Paul becomes specific in the practical biblical truth set forth in Ephesians 4:22-24.
Ephesians 4:25 commands believers in Christ to always speak the truth to their neighbors. Ephesians 4:26-27 addresses the subject of righteous anger. Ephesians 4:28 contrasts stealing vs. working. Ephesians 4:29 commands believers to have gracious speech.
Ephesians 4:29 begins with this imperative phrase: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths. The word no (μή; me) is a negative adverb. In other words, by no means is the believer to do something. What the believer is to never do is speak in a corrupt[U1] manner. Corrupting (σαπρός; sapros) is an adjective meaning harmful unwholesome and worthless. Talk (λόγος; logos) means speech, statements and sayings. In brief, the believer in Christ is not to engage in harmful or hurtful speech.
The speech a believer is to have is that which builds up (οἰκοδομή; oikodome) and edifies. It is speech which fits the particular occasion (χρεία; chreia) or what is particularly needed to be heard at the proper time. This type of appropriate speech imparts grace to those who hear.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The word for “corrupting” refers to that which is foul or rotten, such as spoiled fruit or putrid meat. Foul language of any sort should never pass a Christian’s lips, because it is totally out of character with his new life in Christ (see Col. 3:8; James 3:6–8; cf. Ps. 141:3). The Christian’s speech should be instructive, encouraging, uplifting (even when it must be corrective), and suited for the moment (cf. Prov. 15:23; 25:11; 24:26). Believers have been saved by grace and kept by grace, they should live and speak with grace. Our Lord set the standard (Luke 4:22).”
We speak every day. Let each of us consciously examine how we speak and the character of our speech. May we resolve to always speak graciously.
Have a God honoring day.
Soli deo Gloria!