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
"You're a dumb *#@.” “Shut up.” “Why so salty?" "Do you have to be so stupid?" Not so kind words swirl in the air of the hallways like dust caught in a wind storm. Teaching high school is not easy. Being in high school is worse. Corrupting talk filled with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and slander flows from teenage mouths as freely as water from a spigot. Words and tones jab and poke at all who dare to come near them. Feelings are hurt and hearts are damaged by the poisoned barbs that rain daily from the sky. Grace, empathy, and forgiveness are anomalies in the halls of high school.
It's easy as an adult to pass judgment on the teens that surround me daily. I hear the mean words and flinch when I see the daggers hit their mark. I grieve for those who are torn down by their peers. I work to build community and protect the vulnerable in my classroom, but teenagers are masters at sniping at each other. Shot for shot. Jab for jab. So much energy is wasted on tearing each other down instead of building each other up.
But, am I really that much different? How many of my conversations are negative in nature and injurious to the character or reputation of someone else? Whose feelings have I hurt trying to be witty at their detriment? Teenagers aren't the only ones who can be mean and thoughtless with their words. Adult women have that tendency too.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:29 "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." Wow. These are hard words for sarcastic girls like me. I like landing a good witty jab from time to time. But, Paul is telling me to stop punching. To stop using my words against others in order to make myself look good. Instead, I am to use my words to encourage, edify, and build others up. Corrupting talk is destructive. Its corrosive nature eats away at relationships and people weakening them to the point of destruction. Grace filled talk is nurturing and life giving. It builds relationships into strong safe harbors by offering hope, encouragement, and forgiveness. Grace carves out a safe place for others to grow and blossom. Paul is telling us we need to make a conscious effort to choose our words wisely and use only the ones that will benefit others.
So next time when you are in the hallway with friends, instead of sniping at someone with angry word bullets, launch mortars that spread kindness, tenderness and forgiveness instead.
Wow, Lord, words are hard. It is hard to control them, especially when we are hurt or angry. I want my words to encourage and not discourage others. Guard my mouth. Keep the mean words inside. May grace filled words be sprinkled throughout my conversations today. Amen.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.