If you’re a Christian, one way to walk in your Father’s footsteps is in your communication with others. We should imitate the way our Father communicates in our marriages, in our families, in our church, and in every human relationship.
List of principles
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul provides several principles that will revolutionize how we communicate with others.
First, we must control our mouths constantly. He says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.” Christians, we can and must control our communication. It’s simple obedience. The ultimate problem of course isn’t with our mouths; it’s with our hearts. That’s where our unwholesome words come from.
A second principle is that we must choose our words carefully. Words are tools that we use all the time to express what’s in our minds and they have amazing power. We still feel the wounds left by the careless words of others – in some cases, all the way back to our childhood. Edifying words can be encouraging or discouraging, winsome, or a warning, friendly or firm, but they are always designed to one end: to help. Edifying words are aimed at the problem, not at the person, and are to be appropriate to the person’s need and circumstances.
A third principle in this verse is that we must change our minds about the reason for speaking at all. Most people – I include myself here – use words for all the wrong reasons. Our words don’t exist just for us and our needs. Our words exist for others. God didn’t primarily give us the gift of language and words so that we can express ourselves. He gave us these gifts so we can love others through them. God gave us communication to give grace to those who hear.
In Matthew 12: 34-37, Jesus says that words are such an accurate reflection of the heart, of the contents of the heart, that how you speak, what you say, and the words you choose, will be marshaled as evidence when you stand before God. Your words will either justify your claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to be His disciple, or they will condemn you as one who never was truly changed.
Words are serious because they simply reveal what’s on the inside. If others could look at the flow of a week, not just what we say on Sunday, not just what we say at the church, but they could examine our words over the period of time, we could know what’s in our hearts because they just flow out from the heart.
Jesus says if we are not really followers, if we claim to be but we’re not, every word we have spoken will be marshaled as evidence against us on the day we stand before Christ and our very words will condemn us to eternal hell.
That makes communication a very serious matter.