Is This What We’re Feeding Others?
You can always tell when a presidential race starts revving up. Our television airtime becomes bombarded with campaign ads put out by the various candidates. A common occurrence that is becoming more prevalent is the practice of negative campaigning, or “mud-slinging.” Rather than trying to persuade voters by highlighting their own positive attributes, these ads are designed to slander and berate their opponents in an attempt to discredit their character. The information in these ads is often highly exaggerated, and it’s always presented in a hostile tone.
A recent study shows that 87% of Americans are concerned with the current amount of negative campaign ads being aired. However, even though Americans may disagree with these tactics, they still work. This study reveals that,”while voters might not like negative ads, their perceptions of candidates attacked in negative ads are tarnished by the information they are exposed to,” (thisnation.com).
We learn from our presidential candidates that negative words will always have a negative impact on those who hear them. This law is true within the church as well. Someone once pointed this out in the way that we often use the phrase, “bless their heart.” They observed, “‘Bless their heart’ is the magical phrase we use when we want to say something bad about another person. We can say the most hurtful remarks about someone, but as long as we finish the sentence with, ‘bless their heart’ then it somehow becomes permissible.”
Now, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but how much of our conversation actually consists of negative words about others? God commands us to,”Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear,” (Eph. 4:29). We typically apply this passage to what we consider “curse words,” and this command certainly deals with that area.
However, here God commands the Christian to do much more than merely remove all those “4 letter words” from their vocabulary. The word translated “unwholesome” in Eph. 4:29 literally means “rotten.” We understand that rotten food is completely worthless. Not only is the putrid smell repulsive, but it is incapable of providing nourishment to those who eat it. A Christian must press beyond this type of speech if they want to be like Christ. We are instead to only use words that “will give grace to those who hear.”
Are the conversations that you engage in filled with words that provide no spiritual nourishment. Are they like rotten fruit? Or are people nourished by the grace of Christ through the words you choose? The Christian must choose their words wisely in all situations if they desire the mind of their Lord.