Let Your Words Give Pleasure to God
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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
In Monday's reflection we considered the question: Can you give joy to God? If your words (and deeds) can grieve the Spirit of God, is it possible for you to give joy to God? Tuesday's reflection featured several passages of Scripture that speak of God's delight in us and the fact that we can please him through our actions. So, the answer to our original question is: "Yes. You can give joy to God."
This seems to suggest that, even as our unwholesome talk can grieve the Spirit, our gracious and edifying language can give the Spirit joy. Our words can please God.
This isn't just something we can see between the lines of Ephesians 4:29-30. It is plainly taught in a verse from the Psalms that is often quoted by preachers when they're about to hold forth: "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). The psalmist knows that his words can be "pleasing" in the sight of God.
I grew up with a slightly different translation of this verse: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer." The King James Version used "acceptable" to translate the Hebrew word ratzon. If you'll pardon the pun, this is an acceptable translation. But it misses nuances of ratzon that are better represented by the NIV's "pleasing in your sight." For example, In Proverbs 16:13 we read, "Kings take pleasure [ratzon] in honest lips." Or, in Esther 1:8, the king gives a command that each of his guests could drink whatever he wanted, "for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished [ratzon, meaning "according to his pleasure"]." Thus, Psalm 19:14 shows us that our words can be, not just acceptable to God, but even pleasing to God.
There are many different ways to use words to give pleasure to God. To be sure, our words of worship, whether spoken, prayed, or sung, can please the Lord when they are true and represent what's in our hearts. But, Ephesians 4:29-30 reminds us that our words can please God, not only when they are directed to God in worship, but also when they build up others, when they meet the needs of others, when they benefit those who hear them.
Think of it! When you use your words to encourage someone, when your words teach, when your words are a channel of God's grace to others, the Spirit of God is pleased. God delights in you because he has chosen to love you with an everlasting love. But, through using the power of your words to serve others and to build up the body of Christ, you can give pleasure to God. Now if that isn't motivation to use the power of speech well, I don't know what is.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of times when your words helped others, and therefore gave joy to God? Are there people in your life right now who need to hear your words of grace, love, and encouragement? What might you say to them that will serve them and give pleasure to God?
PRAYER: May all the words of my mouth and all the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. May I give you joy in what I say, always. Amen.
Moving Beyond Mediocrity
This article is part of our series, Moving Beyond Mediocrity. How often in your daily life do you think, “I wish I could do better”? It’s the feeling you get when you realize you aren’t really trying. Your job, your family, even your hobbies: they are worth working harder. But what does it take to move beyond mediocrity? How do you quit using your education, your upbringing, your circumstances, even your faith, as an excuse to keep you from doing your best? Join us as we discuss giving it our all in our workplaces and our homes, in our communities and our churches, for the common good and for the glory of God. Also, consider inviting others to join you by sharing these stories via email, Facebook, Twitter, or networks you are part of.