Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their need… (Ephesians 4:29)
The Greek word translated building up means, in its most literal context, to construct a house, or repair a house, or remodel, renovate, and restore a house.
Paul is saying, then, that in every conversation we should strive to say only that which will build and repair — only that which will make the other person stronger and the situation better.
My Job in De-Construction.
Years ago I took part in a ministry project that involved the renovation of an old house.
Actually, my role wasn’t in the renovation side of things. I was in the group that went in with sledge hammers. It was our job to tear down walls and bust out floors. A lot of fun, I must admit.
When we were finished, the place was a shambles — because that’s what sledgehammers tend to leave behind.
Then came the guys who really know something about construction to begin making the place look new.
When their work was done, it was a marvel to behold.
Of course, I never kidded myself into thinking that I really had anything to do with the end result. I was just a lug with a sledgehammer — the extent of my construction skills.
It was the craftsmen who turned the shambles into a showplace.
Here’s my point.
There are many who think it’s their job, in conversation, to be the sledgehammer. They imagine themselves to be foreman on God’s verbal demolition crew.
But that’s not who you’re called to be.
Your job, rather, is to be a craftsman: to rebuild and renovate with the words you speak.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
It takes no skill at all to swing a sledge hammer. Neither to tear people apart with your words. They’re both about the same.
But a craftsman knows how to build. And rebuild. And renovate and restore.
That’s our job.