“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.” –Ephesians 4:29
What if….we as Christians were known as encouragers? What if, everyone knew they could count on us to build up instead of tear down? What if, in a world full of negativity and division, followers of Jesus Christ were a source of grace and hope and love instead?
I am more convinced than ever that the best way that we who call ourselves Christians can impact our world these days is simply by not being whiners, complainers or arguers, and not feeling the need to interject our opinions into the steaming caldron of vitriol that is social media.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing,” the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2, “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
In effect, he was saying, “You want to stand out in this warped, crooked world? Stop with the grumbling and disputing (as some versions translate those two words). If you just refuse to join the chorus of complainers, you’ll shine like the stars against the dark night sky.” So, we can choose to let nothing unwholesome come out of our mouths–or our keyboards–and also choose only those things that lead to edification and benefit those who hear.
And in case you haven’t been paying attention, it is getting darker, and more negative and divided and hostile by the day out there. It’s so easy for people of grace to get sucked in to the vortex of polarization that defines American culture, and the politicization of all things, that even works its way into the church. But we must resist that temptation, lest we become hard-hearted like the rest of the world.
Here’s how the writer of Hebrews said it: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)
Or hear Paul’s simple words from 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
The Biblical recipe for Christians living in the world, but not of it, is pretty straightforward: don’t use your words to tear down, but to build up. Don’t complain and argue, but encourage. If you can’t find something good to say, then say nothing at all. What if…we all actually practiced that this week?
I am praying for you, that the Lord will bless you, and use you as a blessing to all those around you. I am grateful for each of you, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.