Watch Your Mouth

“It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”

This phrase has come up so often in my life that it’s almost become a mantra.

Maybe you can relate. It’s not that I’m an intentionally mean person; it’s that I tend to be a bit direct and my tone doesn’t always take others’ feelings into account. Sometimes the words escape before they’ve been put through a “nice” filter.

Or maybe you have the opposite issue. You often feel voiceless because sharing what you actually want or needs seems a bit too blunt. It can be much easier telling people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear.

As people who follow Jesus, our voices really do matter. How we use them to share truth in a loving way often determines the kind of influence we’ll have in each situation. This is especially true in our current culture, where the tendency is to allow our media feeds to be our voices, without having to experience how our words affect others.  

It can be challenging to really think through what you’re going to say. But I find encouragement about how I speak (and what I post) when I read the book of Ephesians. Whether you’re hoping to soften your tone or say what you mean, here are a couple of great questions to ask before speaking or posting, to ensure our voices are always pointing others to Jesus.

Is it loving?

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

So much of communication is the attitude behind it. If we take time to humble ourselves and approach others with kindness, think of how that will change our words. If our goal is patience, instead of getting our point across, a conversation can actually happen. When we come to a conversation determined to make the other person feel loved and heard, what a difference that will make!

Is it true?

“Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25

It’s far too easy to share a post or agree with a comment without first checking to see what’s true. As Jesus-followers, it’s our duty to share what is actually true, not just what people want to hear. But we’re not supposed to use truth as a weapon; rather, it’s meant to unify the body to focus on Christ. Real truth doesn’t change and it lines up with God’s Word.  

Is it helpful?

“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

This passage always grips my heart because it reminds me that I’m supposed to think of what is beneficial to the other person, not what I might think is beneficial. What would it be like if everyone asked themselves “is what I’m about to say actually going to benefit someone’s life?” before they said it?

Ultimately, asking these questions does more than just make us think. It unifies us around Christ, and help us mature together in our relationship with Him.

When we learn to focus on what is loving, true, and helpful, then “we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15)
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