When I was young, I was told- “If you don’t have anything nice to say- Don’t say anything!!!” It seemed to be the catch-all for complaints, insults, and downright undisciplined outbursts of negativity. As I grew older, I became familiar with a culture that seemed to value transparency over all else. It seemed the best thing was to keep it real- say what you want to say. Don’t be a two-faced poser and hold it in. Let it out!
I wrestled with these two ideas for some time. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, but I felt that decent behavior required some form of restraint. After all, there is some behavior that constitutes rudeness. You have to draw the line somewhere. Then the Lord reminded me of this verse,
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29
So when it comes to our speech, the obvious standard that God has raised is not whether or not we are keeping it real- but whether we are edifying others. Whether or not we are building them up.
So if you find yourself wanting to say something that might not be pleasant- don’t blurt it out under the pretense of transparency. Hold back, let the Holy Spirit lead you. Are you speaking to build the character of others? Or simply to gratify yourself in saying what you want?
I challenge you, don’t let your words be worthless expressions that you scatter with no purpose. Speak with the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. Speak to build the character of others. Speak to build their confidence. Speak to build alliances between people that were once enemies.
Your words need not be the unceasing reflection of your every thought. They can be the best and most refined product of your highest thoughts. This is in no way two-faced hypocrisy. It is a mark of maturity found in only the most restrained of God’s kingdom.
I challenge you, speak well.