“But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.”
29Let 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. 30Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ok…let’s dig in and look at this word unwholesome!
Unwholesome: rotten, useless, corrupt, depraved.
I looked up the biblical definition for this word and I found the above definition…I also found a description that gives us a better visual of what unwholesome means! (I can’t wait to share this with my kids.)
The Greek meaning of this word is literally “rotten (putrid), over-ripe; over-done (ripened); hence, corrupt…primarily, of vegetable and animal substances, expresses what is of poor quality, unfit for use, putrid“… “of poor or bad quality.”
So, unwholesome words coming out of my mouth are, in God’s eyes, like rotten, moldy, nasty vegetables coming out of my mouth…like putrid “animal substance” coming from my mouth. No wonder the next verse says “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…”. When He hears this “unwholesome-ness” coming from our mouths like a foul stench, of course He is grieved. Like when my kids are being nasty to each other, it grieves my heart to hear it. How much nastier can “grown-ups” be to each other?
This same Greek root word is found in a few other places…check it out.
Matthew 7:17: “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad (unwholesome) tree bears bad fruit.”
We’re onto something with this bad fruit and vegetables thing! Look at this one…
Matthew 12:33: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad (unwholesome) and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.”
More trees and fruit! Jesus is addressing the Pharisees…look what He says next.
34“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35“The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
“…the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
If there are rotten, moldy, putrid words coming out of my mouth, there’s an issue in my heart. It’s like a refrigerator in a college dorm…full of, shall we say, “science experiments” that have been in there for so long, no one even wants to take it out to throw it away. Every time the refrigerator door opens, that rotten smell oozes out. It’s like dog “substance” on the bottom of someone’s shoes…every nose wrinkles when that kid walks in the room.
Like unwholesome words coming out of our mouths. We need a major scrubbing on the inside…we need the Master Cleaner to come in and help us…because this problem is far beyond what a few sprays of Lysol can handle…and the longer we let the rot sit, the worse it’s going to get.
So what, then? How do we clean up a filthy heart?
Well, we’re going to need some help if it’s gotten that bad. That’s where my favorite prayer comes in…from Psalm 51:10.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
We need some help from the Master Cleaner.
And then, this, from verses 31-32…“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Aren’t those things usually the “rotting agents?” Bitterness, wrath, anger…festering in our hearts…sitting in there and becoming rotten, instead of dealing with them before the mold starts to grow. Instead of “putting them away from us,” we let them sit in there and fester. Like last week’s dinner in sitting in the fridge…we don’t feel like dealing with it, so we “ignore it” and shut the door. (What’s that? You’ve never done that before?! Yeah, right. Don’t judge.)
Instead of being kind and tender-hearted, forgiving each other, we let the mold of unforgiveness and bitterness grow until the stink starts coming out of our mouths.
Luke 6:43-45 says, “43“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44“For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.45“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.“
“For each tree is known by its own fruit.”
- So, what is filling my heart? Is it filled with God’s Spirit? Or, is my heart filled with unforgiveness and bitterness?
- To answer above question, think about this…what kind of “fruit” am I producing? Are my words rotten and careless, or do they build up those around me? Do my words give grace to those who hear them?
Colossians 4:6 tells us to “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
Ephesians 4:29 says to use “…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.”
“The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.”
“The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.”
“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”
Father, You search my heart and You know my heart. Today, would You create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me? Holy Spirit, fill every part of me today! Fill me and spill out of me…let my words be full of grace and let me weigh my answers instead of gushing evil. Take any anger and bitterness from me. Help me to know how to respond to each person in each moment, and let them know me by my fruit…fruit that pleases you and brings glory to Your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you…”