In the last week, have you coveted another person’s house, vehicle, position, status, wealth, success, life, or family? Have you stretched facts to make a point in order to move someone to an action that would benefit you? Did you divulge confidential information about an acquaintance because it sounded juicy and entertained the friend with whom you were sharing it? Perhaps, you talked about a person behind their back in a negative light.
As Christians, we often leverage a few choice sins to condemn others, but we rarely consider our own envy, conniving, gossip, and slander, each of which involves another person. In the nineteenth of his thirty wise sayings, Solomon addressed these relationship-killers: “Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble” (Proverbs 24:1-2). When we spend most of our time with people who make this their pattern of life, we become like them, even if we despise their behavior at first. Over time, our standards drop, and reckless transgressions of the heart and mouth become the norm for us, too.
Paul taught: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character'” (1 Corinthians 15:33). As we envy, plot, and sin with our words, we lose our moral compass and kill our reputation in our community. This dishonors God and undermines our opportunities to evangelize and disciple anyone because they perceive us as counterfeits of the authentic Christ we claim to represent. As a solution to this destructive behavior, Paul instructed the Universal Church: “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). Unwholesome talk tears down. Wise words build up. In order to honor God and encourage others with our words, we must first take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5).
Surrender your thoughts and words to God. Take five seconds before you say anything and filter it through the Holy Spirit. Ask Him if it is wise and if it will advance the kingdom of Christ in the hearts of those who will hear what you are about to say. As you take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, apply the old adage to THINK before you talk. Ask if what you are going to share is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. When you offer your mind and mouth to God, He will transform your inner being, your speech, and the attitudes of those around you.