Yet Another Verse I Botch Up!

Posted on April 7, 2022

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By David Ettinger

Quite Challenging!
As I’ve written about in several blogs, the commands of the Bible are quite challenging!

Me looking exasperated.

In other words, certain verses are hard to do. They are hard to do because they go against our sinful human natures. Here are a few (NASB):

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Don’t be anxious about ANYTHING?
  • “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Do NOTHING out of selfishness? Consider others BETTER than ourselves?
  • “I [Jesus] am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Yes, but we all know just how UNLOVABLE certain fellow Christians can be!

Even More Challenging
And here’s another one, Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

This is a 2-pronged verse that’s REALLY hard one to do!

I generally connect this verse to the use of 4-letter words, but Ephesians 4:29 goes further. Actually, another verse covers 4-letter words, Ephesians 5:4: “… there must be no filthiness or foolish talk, or vulgar joking, which are not fitting …”

That one’s not so difficult. When I gave my life to Christ in 1986, bad language was the first thing to go. However, Ephesians 4:29 is far more wide-reaching, going well beyond only the use of 4-letter and other inappropriate words. Let’s examine.

No Unwholesome Word
“Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth …”

The Greek word for “unwholesome” is sapros, which means “rotten,” “tainted,” “putrid,” “worthless,” and “corrupted.” The connotation of sapros is language that is corrupted and unfit for use. This describes profanity and dirty jokes, but also any kind of conversation that is empty and worthless. What would this include?

Certainly gossip falls into the category of unwholesome, rotten, corrupt, and tainted. I would also include complaining – especially the whining kind. And how about disparaging others? This is certainly rotten, corrupt, and tainted. (If you have other examples of unwholesome talk, please comment below.)

As Christians, we see the merit of Ephesians 4:29 and wholeheartedly concur, but how many of us are guilty of violating it? My hand is raised high!

Edifying Words
Ephesians 4:29 not only commands us to avoid rotten speech, but encourages us to speak “any good word for edification.”

The Greek word for “edification” is agathos, which means “good” or “beneficial.” Agathos words are not only proper, kind, or polite, but uplift and benefit the hearer. The connotation of agathos is something useful; pleasant; agreeable; joyful; happy; excellent; distinguished; upright; and honorable.

I’m not sure how feasible this is to accomplish, but the idea of speaking in a way that benefits and uplifts the hearer is something Christians can understand and espouse. And if you just did a quick self-assessment and realized that most of your conversation doesn’t meet agathos standards, join the club!

What Counts
So long as we exist in our corrupt, fleshly, human bodies, we will always fall short of following God’s commands to the T. However, this is no excuse to not try.

Though we know that all of the commands listed above are impossible to obey perfectly, they show us what God desires of us. He expects us to try to obey them, identify the flaws within us that prevent us from obeying them, pray about our flaws, make changes, and seek to “be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).

So yes, Ephesians 4:29 is another verse I continue to botch up on both ends ­– speaking what I shouldn’t, and not speaking what I should. Perhaps the same applies to you. But we can turn to God, pray for Him to change us from within, and strive ever more diligently to shun the unwholesome and embrace the edifying.