USELESS CHATTER . . . Who listens?

“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.” (Reference: Ephesians 4:29 )

The writer of Ephesians lists several things that new and accountable Christians should do, “Rules for the New Life” the NRSV calls them. The instructions on “unwholesome talk” is one of several instructions the writer of Ephesians gives. Peter Riedeman builds on this particular exhortation when he writes, “To love God with my whole soul, Matt. 22:37, means to watch all the words I speak so that they serve for God’s praise and the edification and betterment of my neighbor, as Paul teaches, Eph. 4:29. One should speak words that are gracious to listen to, necessary, and beneficial for the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 14:5, 12; words that accord with faith and serve to confess and testify to the Son of God, 1 Pet. 4:10ff., . . . For all speech that comes from faith brings betterment and merits God’s spirit and praise. But if I consider my words and find neither God’s praise nor the betterment of my neighbor, I should stop, as James teaches, keep my tongue in control and remain silent, lest my words grieve God’s Holy Spirit, James 1:26”

We have, beloved, in the past days focused on speaking wise and meaningful words, but it is also true that we should listen to only wise and meaningful words. That does not mean we are at fault if “useless chatter” or “unwholesome talk” comes to our ears; but when we know someone’s talking etc is useless or unwholesome, we should not feel obligated to listen. (That is how I feel about a lot of “political” talk.) I do not feel I would be misconstruing the writer of Ephesians teachings if I suggested he would also say “don’t listen to unwholesome talk. Listen to only what is helpful for you and others according to your needs and to all humanity’s benefit.” Selah!