Choosing to be Edifying but not Sharp

Choosing to be Edifying but not Sharp


I’ve been continuing to work through the Doorposts 30 Days Child Training Boot Camp as part of my summer Bible time.  We’ve worked through obedience.  We’ve learned what God has done for us.  Then, we’ve hit an area that is a problem in our home.  It might be a problem in yours too:  Speech!

Ephesians 4:29 says,

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.

This has been a verse that has convicted me often, and the conviction didn’t stop today!  That is for sure.  My understanding of this verse tells me that we aren’t going to speak corruptly to people but to instead speak words that build them up.  But, what does corrupt mean?

Using Blue Letter Bible, our Bible study has us look up the definitions for the word “corrupt.”  These are:

  1. rotten, putrid
  2. corrupted by age and no longer fit for use, worn out; hence in general, of poor quality; bad, unfit for use, worthless.

I was already beginning to feel very convicted.  Sometimes there’s nothing edifying about my speech and it’s just worthless and rotten.  In fact, the other KJV verses with the word corrupt in them all refer to either bad fruit or bad fish.  This word is mostly used to express the idea that bad trees bring forth bad fruit, so the bad speech problems that I’m dealing with mean that my heart is rotten to the core.  I kind of already knew that, but until this morning, I hadn’t seen the connection in the Bible between the bad fruit trees in the gospels and the corrupt speech in Ephesians.

The next word I needed to get a definition for was the phrase “of edifying.”  The definitions I found for this word were:

  1. (the act of) building, building up
  2. metaph, edifying, edification–The act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, and holiness
  3. a building (i.e. the thing built, edifice)

After looking at the definition, I looked at the use of this word throughout the New Testament.  Here are some of the lessons I gleaned:

  • Our spiritual gifts are given to us for the purpose of edifying one another
  • In the gospels, the tabernacle or temple is occasionally referred to as a building with this Greek word
  • Speaking with sharpness is destructive and not edifying (2 Cor. 13:10)
  • When the church works together without division it is edifying

Of all these gleanings, perhaps the one that is most compelling and convicting to me is what I learned from 2 Corinthians 13:10.  This verse says:

Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

Even Paul was having a hard time being edifying with the Corinthian church without bridging over into sharpness and destructiveness.  After all, he writes here that this is why he sends a letter instead of making a visit.

Sometimes, I have trouble correcting and edifying my children without bridging over into sharpness.

Sometimes, the things I mean to say that a truly corrective and for upbuilding are things that I might say in a way that is just awful and instead of bringing grace to my listeners’ ears, all I bring harshness, condemnation and destruction into their hearts.

Little hearts are fragile and delicate, and the way we speak to them becomes the way they speak to themselves.  Sometimes we have to avoid old patterns or patterns that we’re given as parents to speak to them in ways that are truly helpful.  Sometimes I find that I may have to even withhold correction because I’m too harsh to be able to correct without destroying.

I’m still working on it, and God’s still working on me.  So, I don’t have any real plans to overcome this problem yet.  I’ll  be writing more on this subject soon though because I know that God wants me to work diligently to fix this problem that I have with my words.


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