Read Ephesians 4:25–31
Today let’s investigate the impact of grace on your speech. By the way, one handy guide to understanding Paul’s epistles: Paul’s epistles! He often summarizes what he means about any given topic in his own, shorter epistles. Thus much of what he says in Romans is summarized in the shorter Ephesians, and much of what he says in Ephesians is summarized in the even shorter Colossians. One example: You could say Paul has a pithy summary of what he says in Ephesians about the use of words in Colossians 4:6:
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
I love that phrase: “Let your conversation be always full of grace.” It reminds me of a slogan I saw in Hawaii: “Spread the aloha spirit.” Spread the grace spirit! How? As always, Jesus is your guide.
Think of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4). When she says, “I have no husband,” Jesus could have attacked her for her immorality (turns out she has had several husbands and is not married to the guy she is living with) but instead He compliments her for her candor!
Think of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8). By all rights, He could have condemned her. Instead He reminds everyone in the crowd that they too have sinned — and then says to her, “Neither do I condemn you.”
Think of Jesus and Peter after the resurrection (John 21). He gently restores him with the question, “Do you love me?” and then the simple phrase, “Feed my sheep.”
“Full of grace” means “gracious” and “graceful” speech, but it means more than that. As James Montgomery Boice points out, the way Paul uses the words in this verse could also mean “let your conversation be full of the doctrines of grace.” In other words, “Let a lot of what you talk about be God’s grace.” What an encouraging subject!
Now think of conversations you hear in our society, on radio talk shows, or at work or school. Too often they’re full of insults, seasoned with sarcasm; or full of judgment, seasoned with self-righteousness; or full of anger, seasoned with crudity.
As poet Maya Angelou said on the Today show:
There is a blight in American society which has taken root in our souls and in our mouths: Vulgarity. Whether it comes from white shock-jocks or black hip-hop artists, vulgarity demeans people, robs them of dignity. How have we come to this place?
What about you? Let’s start a movement to change vulgar language and harsh language to grace-filled language. As part of this Grace Immersion, try this: For at least the next fifteen days, until the end of this study, only speak grace-filled words. After all, Paul says to let your conversation be always full of grace. That means more than just good manners (although that’s included!).
Seven ways to fill your conversation with grace:
Do this not as a duty; do this as a response to God’s grace to you! In simple terms: You give the grace you got from God!
The Grace Immersion means more than just learning about grace. It’s about really immersing yourself in a grace-filled lifestyle, and your words are part of that immersion!
As Justin Taylor puts it, “We think words, hear words, speak words, sing words, write words, and read words — all the time. Every day.” So the words you choose to use will shape your life and the lives of others more than almost any other single factor.
Rudyard Kipling said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” What kind of “word-drugs” are we using in our culture today: Words that heal, or words that addict and destroy? How so?
Do you agree with Maya Angelou’s comments? Why?
How would you complete this sentence: “My words tend to be full of ____________________, seasoned with _____________?”
Again, ask God to help you show grace specifically through your words for the next 15 days!