When I heard about a minister in my area getting fired, I couldn’t get away from thinking about this text… as he told me that there were several vicious rumors and lies told about him and his family. The passage that came to mind is found in Ephesians 4:29-32…
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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
“NO corrupting talk?” Right… NONE! Not even if me best friend I trust told me? Not if it IS true? Not even if I KNOW it is true? No, do not say anything at all that is defamatory. Of course protecting the lives of others is an exemption, and then only to proper authorities.
This passage nails me. God uses it to convict me. It is so easy to fail at this point. As is found in James 3:2…
We all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 6 The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
When I fail, it grieves the Holy Spirit? Yes. It grieves me that I have grieved the Spirit! Or at least it should grieve me. When my speech corrupts others it is like spitting on one who loves me… its like a backhanded slap to his face… or not caring about the consequences of my words. The answer and prevention is found in 4:31-32… negative and positive admonitions.
“Put away” and “Be” (4:31-32). These take conscious deliberate actions. Both “don’t” and “do” require an act of the will. After painting me into a corner in 4:29, and showing the consequence in 4:30, Paul gives a “window of escape” in 4:31-32. THAT is called grace, mercy, and encouragement… being sanctified by God’s Word!
May we all work diligently apply this in our lives, regardless of what others do (Phil 1:27).