Rotten Words=Foul Mouths

            “Let no unwholesome (literally: rotten) word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”—Ephesians 4:29 NASB

     Summer is hectic. Added to that, having a four-year-old that struggles with authority and is awaiting pediatrician referred testing for ADD and ODD, simple outings can turn into wars. As a parent, this can be very trying. I am not a doctor; I am not qualified to diagnose my son. However, I am intelligent enough to know that he has behavioral issues that have at times caused me to give pause and wonder if he is on the spectrum or possibly does have ADD or ODD. We’ll only know for sure when the testing ensues, and he is diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist.

     Yet, it makes for difficult times. For example, yesterday I went to get my car’s oil changed and tires rotated. My kid was good for a while but then he started to get bored, wouldn’t sit still, wanted this and wanted that—all the typical four going on five-year-old things. I gave him my phone to watch Veggie Tales for a little bit. When he started acting up and wouldn’t listen, I took it from him and would not give it back.

     Of course, he had a fit and persisted, arguing with me and demanding that I give him the phone back. I stood my ground and settled in on the ‘no’ I had told him. Now, there are those—particularly: complete strangers—that would be quick to say to someone in this situation, “I would…” or “If he was my…” followed by an unsolicited parenting technique. Some may even passive aggressively say aloud, “spoiled brats need to not have the rod spared.” None of which really edifies, only adds stress to an already stressful moment.

     Now, I know that there might be those that quickly jump to the fact that edification means to enlighten and educate. Oxford Dictionary says that it is the instruction or improvement of a person morally or intellectually. In the Greek, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible says that it was meant, in the New Testament, as the act of building up. Not really the same thing as rubbing another person’s nose in the self-aggrandizing heap of personal accomplishment as their child pushes them to their wits end.

      As a father and a believer, I read Ephesians 4:29 and see so many applications. I mean, as a father, edify is akin to positive reinforcement and the familiar Christianese speak life notion—Build them up. However, I have told my son, “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit.” Or, “Sorry, it is what it is, and that is what we’re working with.” To some that may not be very speak life. But, he understands it.

      In an everyday application, though, for those of us who are believers, for those of us who say we believe in Christ, perhaps wading into a situation with our unsolicited advice is not the best answer. In fact, I have been blessed to experience edification in this area when someone reinforces what I am teaching my son by saying, “You have to listen to your dad.” Or, “You know, the best way to honor your dad is to listen to him.” The best yet was when my son told me that I was not the boss, God was the boss, and a friend piped up, saying, “That is right, God is the boss, and He made it so that your Daddy and Mommy are the boss of you, so they are your bosses, too.”

     This is one example out of so many that we could look at when considering the application of this verse. But, what about you? Can you see how you can improve the world we live in by building others up according to their need and not from your own selfish need to prove how good you did it or said it? What are some ways that you see others could build up and speak life into your own situation and how can you harness that to do unto others?

Until Next Time
God Bless


  1. It seems like this verse is especially targeted to those in leadership (fathers, coaches, disciplers, pastors) because it is so easy to fall into rotten speech when leading. Certainly the church would not have gotten very far if the leaders did not know how to edify church members. Leaders need to be more careful than anyone in their speech.

    1. Dear Unknown,

      I hope you are having an amazing summer! I apologize for not approving your comment for publishing until today. I forget that comments are set up on this blog where I have to approve them before they are posted; and I do not get notifications to check that folder. So, I am deeply sorry for that.

      Great comment, btw! I agree, the verse in Ephesians definitely has weighted significance with respect to leaders. However, I think that it targets each one of us as believers exactly where we are in our day to day walk with Christ, too.

      Hear me out. This is how this passage resonates with me with respect to the application and perspective that you provided:

      For leaders, if a leader is tearing down those that they lead (children, wives, players, disciples, congregants, as well as volunteers) that leader may well be the stumbling block that God says woe to them through whom the stumbling block comes (Luke 17:1 NASB). Especially if the rotten speech is in the form of mocking criticism, gossip, or passive aggressive trash-talk. For someone that is not spiritually mature or someone that has not yet learned to show grace and mercy as it has been shown to them, that could be devastating. Realizing that it is happening or has happened, should cause the leader to repent and resolve not to do that anymore. This is particularly true of leaders in the discipleship, pastoral/shepherding, and preaching/teaching spheres of leadership because the church is where we are to equip believers with the Gospel so that they may go and make disciples. If we are not properly edifying the congregation with that, then we are failing in the Great Commission and that is a whole other issue.

      So, I agree that leaders need to be more careful with their speech, with what and how they teach, and what they choose to glorify. However, I also think that each believer should look at it through how they interact with everyone they come into contact with, too. Because, if the leaders within the local church are edifying the Church (the Body of Christ), then each congregant is an ambassador and disciple of the Gospel of the Atoning Blood of Jesus. Thus, each member of the local church, is apart of that discipling ministry in the Body of Christ, too. Or, at least, should be.

      With regard to 'Certainly the church would not have gotten very far if leaders did not know how to edify church members,' I am not sure that I understand the context of that statement? If you are following this, and see this response, perhaps you can unpack that thought a little bit more?

      Thanks for commenting!

      God Bless


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