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.Ephesians 4:29 NIV
How does my speech impact the people around me? Is it beneficial to them? Or is it detrimental? How often do we even stop to evaluate the impact our words will have before they come pouring out? It is, after all, much easier just to talk first and then, maybe, think about the impact of our words. How much better if we followed the old saying to “put your brain in gear before engaging your mouth.”
I have found that I am most susceptible to unwholesome talk in two different situations. The first is when I am engaged in casual conversation and not really thinking about what I am saying. Sometimes my mouth just seems to take over, leaving my brain as an observer of the conversation, not really involved, but just listening. And there have been times when the brain has been saddened by what is coming out of the mouth. But by the time the brain is able to re-exert control, the words are out, and the damage is done.
The second situation I sometimes find myself in is when I am faced with negative criticism about something I have said or written. My immediate reaction is to defend myself, my beliefs, or my words. But, as I have repeatedly learned, my immediate response is usually not the best one. It is almost always better to take the time to calm down, pray, and seek to provide a response that is edifying. Try to avoid a response that only adds fuel to the fire.
A Prayer for Wholesome Speech
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 NIV