When it comes to giving up useless words (my theme for the week) Ephesians 4:29 remains one of my favorite passages:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
It’s easy to read passages like this and see the implications for how we interact with people. It’s actually super clear: speak only words that build people up rather than tearing them down. Speak life-giving, grace-filled words as we interact with others.
The hardest part though, is realizing that nowhere in that verse does it limit our life-giving words to OTHER people. This verse must also impact the way we are called to speak to ourselves. Sadly, the challenging task of speaking grace-filled words to others actually can seem easy at times compared to speaking those words to ourselves.
Let’s take worry for example. We talked about it back in the first week of Lent. It’s one of those things for many of us that seems hard to kick to the curb. We encourage other people not to worry. We point out one of the hundreds of times in Scripture God reminds us we have no need to worry. We walk with them and help them figure out the uncertainties of life giving grace for their worry. And yet, when it comes to us… we ignore all that and just worry!
The way we think and the words we tell ourselves get our hearts all in a knotted mess of anxiety and fear. The things I say often is evidence of what is in my heart and how I talk about the tough or uncertain parts of life impacts where my heart is at as well. Speaking words of worry does not give myself, the hearer, grace.
Or what about the other ways we tear ourselves down? We tell ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, then enough… just not enough. We berate things that we feel we messed up and down play the times when God’s work shines brightly in our lives. We struggle sometimes not as much with “not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought” (Romans 12), but rather more so with thinking of ourselves LESS highly than we ought. Are the things coming out of your mouth building YOURSELF up? Are they offering grace to YOURSELF? Often, I think we’d all probably say no.
At first it seems like the antidote to these self-deprecating words is to just start talking better about yourself. However, I’ve found that typically doesn’t work or swings me completely the opposite direction on the pendulum from insecurity to pride. No, I’ve found the best component of giving up negative self-talk, is actually through talking more highly of God! It’s through worship.
First, back with our worry example, as I try to change worry words into worship words, I find my anxious knot begin to unravel. I remember that while life isn’t always easy, I serve a God who has dominion and power and authority over EVERYTHING. He’s got this under control and as I worship him, my worry fades.
Also, worship helps me get a right view of myself. It allows me to keep God in the #1 position and therefore, I can see where I fall. I am not the center of the universe, but I am also not just some gum on the bottom of someone’s shoe. I am a beloved, treasured, child of the Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of the Universe! I have value! I am accepted! I am enough! I am chosen! I am sent! Worshiping my God reminds me not only of who He is, but who I am in Him. Only because of who He is do I have value.
So today, let’s exchange our worry for worship. Let’s give up self-demeaning words, and speak words that build up and affirm our identity in Christ. Let’s give ourselves the same grace we might desire to give others.
Speak life… yes, even to yourself!