Have you ever read a Bible verse that you’ve read a million times but the millionth-and-one time you read it, something new about the verse struck you? That happened to me recently. I have to first admit that I actually haven’t read this verse a million times, but I am familiar with it. Here’s the verse:
“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.” -Ephesians 4:29
It’s a great scripture – one that I always used as a challenge and encouragement not to gossip. Recently when I read the verse, something else jumped out at me: the words that come out of my mouth need to build others up according to THEIR NEEDS; it needs to benefit those with whom I’m speaking.
How often do I stop to think about what others’ needs are when I’m talking with them? Not often, if I’m being honest. I’m normally thinking about the message that I want to communicate and what I need them to understand about me.
I read a statement in a commentary about this verse and it struck me right between the eyes. Here was the statement from the Matthew Henry Commentary, “The great use of speech is to edify those with whom we converse.” Wait, what?! A main goal of my speech should be to focus on others by encouraging or edifying them? How did I miss this? I’m not too sure how this hasn’t sunk deeper into my skull until reading it again, but it may have to do with a circumstance I found myself in recently when trying to figure out how to approach someone about a challenging issue.
When I think of this verse in light of confrontation, it completely changes how I choose to go about it. Instead of trying to get my message across, I can focus instead on what the person may need to hear – what may benefit them. That completely revolutionizes how I approach confrontation. Scripture is very clear about speaking truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Now I can consider how to encourage and spur someone else on when approaching someone about a difficult situation.
So, let me encourage YOU today that your speech be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6), that it edifies others (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and that you act urgently on this appeal by speaking such encouragement today (Hebrews 3:13)!