A Bible verse that I have been learning and meditating on a lot in the last few years is Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer”. Sometimes my words are not acceptable in God’s sight. But often I realize that what flows out of my mouth flows from what I have been meditating on in my heart. So as this verse says, we need to make the meditations of our heart pleasing to the Lord and then our words will more likely be pleasing to the Lord.
So what words of our mouths are pleasing to the Lord? How do we determine that? Ephesians 4:25-32 gives us a good start on that list…
- Verse 25 “putting away lying”, “speak truth”
- Verse 26 “be angry, and do not sin”
- Verse 29 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth”
- Verse 29 “but what is good for necessary edification”
- Verse 29 “that it may impart grace to the hearers”
- Verse 30 “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God”
- Verse 31 “Let all bitterness”
- Verse 31 “wrath”
- Verse 31 “anger”
- Verse 31 “clamor”
- Verse 31 “and evil speaking be put away from you”
- Verse 31 “with all malice”
- Verse 32 “be kind to one another”
- Verse 32 “tenderhearted”
- Verse 32 “forgiving one another”
From these verses (and I know some of this stuff is obvious that we’ve been taught from a young age), we can see that our words should be the truth and not lies. I don’t feel God distinguishes between “little white lies” and any other lie. He wants our words to be truthful.
We can also see that sometimes we are allowed to be angry, but we should not sin in our anger. So our words should not be angry words that would be hurtful to others.
We shouldn’t let any corrupt words come out of our mouths but rather words that are going to be uplifting and edifying to others. Edifying is teaching (or in this case talking) in a way that improves the mind or character. And these words should impart grace to those that hear them. Impart means to make something known to someone. So we should make people know grace with our words. Grace is defined as a controlled, polite and pleasant way of behaving. So to impart grace we need to control our mouths and be polite and pleasant in what we say.
Verse 30 talks about not grieving the Holy Spirit. And I believe that any words that we say that are negative would grieve the Holy Spirit.
Next comes another list of things that we should avoid. Some of them are hard for me to distinguish from some of the others. We need to put away from us all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice. Bitterness is defined as angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment. Wrath is strong vengeful anger or indignation. Clamor is a loud or strong demand for something by many people. Malice is the desire to cause pain, injury or distress to another. These are all some pretty strong words describing how our words can be if we’re not careful.
Instead of these things our words should be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving to others. Tenderhearted is defined as easily moved to love, pity or sorrow.
So ultimately our words should be truthful, edifying (improving the mind or character), imparting grace (controlled, polite and pleasant), kind, tenderhearted (easily moved to love, pity or sorrow) and forgiving.
When Meg was little, she learned in Sunday School or Childrens church or Awana that we should say things that are true, kind and necessary. She made a magnet that she brought home, and we had it on our refrigerator until we moved 6 years ago. The little magnet said “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” This is a great reminder to us about our words. And it also points out one more thing about our words. Sometimes words that are true are NOT necessary. Sometimes the audience that will listen to our words do not need to hear them even if they are true. As an example, children don’t always need to hear the truth about a situation because it may not be edifying to them….thinking on something they hear may not improve their mind or character even if it is true, instead it may just pass on negativity to them. So we need to be careful not only to be truthful but also to determine if it is truly necessary to say.