Eph 4:31 “Let all…evil speaking, be put away from you, with
Words are extremely powerful, aren’t they? The things we say can
impact people for a moment and sometimes for a lifetime. I
learned recently that the Greek word “logos” means more than
simply “word” as it is translated into English. It also means
the thought, the concept, and the intent behind the word.
I wasn’t much of a “yeller” when I was raising my kids although
my two youngest sons tried to help me become one! However, the
fact that I seldom raised my voice didn’t mean I wasn’t serious.
Neither did it mean every word that came out of my mouth was
kind, and that’s still sometimes true. Angry people tend to say
angry words, and I was and am no exception.
Those of us who love a prodigal have a lot to be angry about.
Whatever dreams we had for our prodigals are lying in ashes
around our feet. We’ve been lied to and about, cheated,
betrayed, disappointed and stolen from. If they didn’t steal our
material things or our money, they certainly stole our hope.
We’ve forgiven them multiple times only to have them repeat the
offense. And they continue to show a brutal lack of concern that
they are hurting us. In fact, they have purposely said rude,
ugly things to us that are shocking in their cruelty. And this
to the Mom or Dad who gave them life or the spouse they swore to
love and cherish. How could we not be hurt and angry?
In Ephesians 4, Paul begins by admonishing us to “walk worthy of
the vocation wherewith [we] are called.” (Eph 4:1) Before the
chapter is finished, he has listed some things we need to lay
aside if we’re going to “walk worthy” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of those is “evil speaking…with all malice.” (Eph 4:31)
But, you might say, I don’t start these arguments! You have no
idea how cruel my prodigal is or how hurt I am because of what
he or she has said or done. Am I not allowed to defend myself
when I’m attacked? That’s a fair question, isn’t it? But I’m
pretty sure God’s response would be similar to what we used to
say when our kids were fighting: “I don’t care who started it.”
Walking worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ extends to the words
that come out of my mouth. There’s a significant problem if I
can praise the Lord one minute and say vicious words to or about
another person the next. And walking worthy almost certainly
means I can’t say things with “the desire to cause pain, injury
or distress to another.” That’s the meaning of malice.
It doesn’t mean we can’t set boundaries to protect ourselves. If
someone is vicious to me on the phone, I can hang up. If I’m in
their home and they are cruel, I can leave. If they are in my
home and behaving inappropriately, I can tell them to leave. I
can even take a break from communicating with them on FB, but I
need to do all those things in a spirit of humility rather than
with the intent of striking out.
In other words, I can say what I mean and mean what I say
without saying it mean. And I can remind myself that sometimes
“speaking the truth in love” means keeping my mouth shut. Saying
things with the intent to hurt is one of the things I need to
Challenge for Today: Can you, just for today, take a look
at your words and the motive and intent behind those words?