Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Mean words. Potty-talk. Critical comments. It was the beginning of a long summer, and I purposed to tackle the issue of the ugly mouth I heard coming from my children. For that summer, my children and I focused on the verse above. We memorized it. We talked about it. We defined words and explained concepts within it. We looked for it lived out in others. We noticed the opposite qualities lived out in others. And most importantly, we asked God to help us walk out this verse in our family relationships. That was hard for a big sister with a huge vocabulary that could slice and dice, and a little brother who had strong, fast arms, fists and feet!
I asked a lot of questions that summer: “Was that wholesome?”(This followed potty-talk). “Did what you said build up your brother?”(This followed a critical comment). “What do you think your sister needs to hear right now?”(This followed an accidental injury). “Did your words toward each other benefit the other people in the restaurant?” (Happily, this followed a stranger’s compliment to their visible manners).
Our family became sensitive to the power and effect of each word. Our children began to discern what was wholesome and what was not worthy of their lips. I, too, began to carefully weigh my words and to consider the people in the periphery of every situation who inadvertently hear how we love one another with our words.
Even though that summer is long gone, I am still questioning my children about their words. “Are they wholesome?” “Are they edifying?” “Love one another with your words,” I say to them. And they GET IT … most of the time!
May the words of my mouth and this meditation in my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 54:2).