Have you heard about suppressed memories?
It’s a phenomenon where you deliberately forget about something that happened to you because of how unpleasant it was. Well, some time ago I had a suppressed memory resurface and I re-lived a childhood trauma.
I have a little watercooler that was given to me as a gift, and I thought it would be a nice addition to my office. So I pulled it off the shelf and noticed it was a bit dusty. I put it in the kitchen, hoping my wife would get the hint that it needed a clean before I had to do it myself. Later that day I saw it was clean, full of water, and plugged in on the kitchen counter. The ice-cold fresh water looked inviting, so I poured a glass and took a swig of it, only to discover that my wife had cleaned it with dish soap and the taste was still very much present! (That’ll teach me to shirk my share of the cleaning.)
At that moment I had a flashback to a memory that I had totally blocked from my mind. I was about five years old and starting to toy with taboo words and experiment with the use of the fouler shades of the English language. One day my grandmother overheard me teaching some colorful vocabulary to my younger cousins and she took it upon herself to help me clean up my act. Literally.
You’ve heard of the expression “I’ll wash your mouth out with soap”? My grandmother was quite a literalist. She dragged me into the kitchen, put on her rubber dishwashing gloves, wiped a generous glob of liquid soap onto an old grimy sponge, and proceeded to vigorously scour my tongue, teeth, and gums.
Previously we looked at Instructions on how to repent and then specifically, how to repent of lying, anger, and stealing. In our text today Paul takes out the scouring brush and dish soap and goes to work on our mouths.
3 Steps of Speech Therapy To Wash Your Mouth Out With The Water Of God’s Word
1. Refrain: Spit Out The Rot
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
The word corrupt means rotten. It’s like when you bite into a nice juicy apple, only to get a mouthful of fermenting, worm-ridden black rot in your mouth. You would spit that out. Well, you need to spit out your rotten speech.
Let’s identify some corrupt talk:
-Gossip: Just because something is true, doesn’t mean you should publish it abroad. e.g. “Have you heard he got fired for stealing?” Proverbs 26:20, 22 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. …The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.
-Lying and exaggeration: Proverbs 12:19, 22 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. … Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
-Flattering: saying something to someone’s face to gain their favor, when you don’t really mean it.
-Coarse jesting: Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
This includes dirty jokes, sexual innuendo in your humor, and making light of things that should be serious.
-Blaspheming: using Jesus Christ’s name as a cuss word.
2. Renew: Rinse Your Mind With The Wash Of Truth
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,
Once you have identified the speech therapy you need, then wash out your mouth with the soap of God’s word. i.e. renew your mind with thinking about what speech is for. Think of how God wants you to use your tongue. He wants your speech to be helpful and appropriate.
-Helpful: but only such as is good for building up.
You’ve heard it said “If you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But I say to you “If you can’t find something nice to say, you need to repent and think of something nice to say.”
-Appropriate: but only such as… fits the occasion.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ type of speech. Sometimes you need to speak up and other times you need to bite your tongue. Sometimes you need to be firm, other times gentle, depending on the person.
What I do in the pulpit is appropriate for the public proclamation of God’s word. But one on one, you need to speak differently. Is the person hurting, confused, or rebellious? Those sicknesses each need different medicines.
3. Replace: Say Something Nice
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.
The opposite behavior of corrupt speech is not the mute button. You don’t have to take a vow of silence to be godly. Your job description is to “give grace.”
Graciousness is the sweetness of speech spoken of in Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. It’s the opposite of offensive language, bitter ranting, or stale banality.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Conversations with Christians should never leave a bitter aftertaste but should always have a pleasant sweetness. Christians can converse with unbelievers about the weather, sport, politics, and movies, making their conversation pleasant and informed, while still using opportunities to bear witness to the grace of God in their lives.
Be constantly filled with the grace of Christ and you will spill that grace over in your words.
So if you are battling to speak graciously, repent of your corrupting talk. With the Holy Spirit’s help stop it, fill your mind with God’s truth and ask God for his help to be gracious. If you have never repented of your sins, then put your faith in Jesus’ death on the cross on your behalf, turn to God in repentance, and receive the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life that pleases God. It is only with the Spirit’s daily help that you can notice your sin and then… just stop it!
Source: The Cripplegate | Clint Archer