Together in Christ: 'Filter for Our Speech' — Ephesians 4:29

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

— Ephesians 4:29 NLT

Key Thought

We have all been there. We get caught up in the emotions of a conversation, then say something inappropriate, and suddenly, the conversation comes to an uncomfortable halt. Everyone fidgets nervously during the awkward silence. Then, we try to fix what we said, only making everything worse.

The Holy Spirit is working to develop His holy fruit in our lives. We, however, need to guard our hearts [1] because all speech comes from what is inside our hearts. [2] The things we see and hear, the people we choose for friendships, and the values promoted on TV and in the movies, all seep into our hearts. We need to make sure we are walking with Jesus each day in His story in the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — to open our lives to the transforming work of the Spirit. [3] And, we probably need to tattoo today's verse on relationships to the inside of our eyelids so we will remember it and use this filter for all of our speech! [4] (Of course, the tattooing is symbolic to convey how important these words are in our day of crude, foul, profane, and abusive speech!)

I think I will write today's relationship verse on a card by hand and go over each day for the next month. Maybe I'll move that card each week to a different place so I can regularly discover and re-read it.

I want to highlight one crucial insight into this passage. We can't simply stop destructive behaviors without replacing them with good behaviors! [5] Paul emphasized the positive behavior to help us keep out the bad ones: "[E]verything you say [should] be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Notice three essential principles of Paul's speech filter:

  1. Let everything you say... — this principle is universal for every conversation on every occasion.
  2. Be good and helpful... — Does it need to be said? Is it good to be said? Does it help the people who hear it?
  3. So that your words will be an encouragement... — Is what I am about to say beneficial to the people with whom I am sharing it?

I'm claiming this as my speech filter and asking the Holy Spirit to help me learn to use it in every conversation with others. I invite you to join me!

[1] Proverbs 3:1-2, 4:20-23.
[2] Matthew 12:34; Mark 7:14-23; Luke 6:43-45.
[3] 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23.
[4] Paul's phrase "an encouragement to those who hear" (δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσιν "give grace to those hearing") emphasizes gracious speech that is beneficial to others. See, also, 2 Timothy 2:14.
[5] Matthew 12:43-45.

Today's Prayer

Father, I want to speak the truth because I know You hate lies. I want to be self-controlled with what I say because You long for me to avoid idle words, gossip, and exaggeration. Strengthen my resolve, Father, as I commit to incorporating these principles into my daily life. I want everything I say to be consistent with Your will, helpful to others, and carefully crafted to reflect Jesus appropriately. I pray this in His name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Colossians 2:4-6
  • Matthew 12:33-37


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Illustration of Ephesians 4:29 NLT — Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.