My car was rattling and clanging. At first, I didn’t do anything about it. I would drive it to school and ignore the sounds that the engine made. Eventually, the smoke pouring out from under the hood convinced me that it was time to fix the problem.
When I took my car to the mechanic, he took one look and offered me $500 for the car. I told him that I was there to fix it, not to sell it. He laughed a little (irritation was the emotion that I was feeling), and he told me that he would have to replace the engine to fix the car’s problem.
My experience with my car also shows us something about our relationships. When a car’s engine is in good shape, the noises from under the hood will be good. But when a car’s engine is in bad shape, the noises will be chaotic. In the same way, when my heart is in good shape, then the words from a good heart will be life-giving to my relationships. When my heart is in bad shape, then the words will be destructive.
1. Our words reveal the condition of our heart.
Let’s look back at my car for a minute. The clanging and banging that I heard from under the hood were indicators of a deeper problem. That chaotic noise was a warning sign that my engine was damaged.
When communication in our relationships is filled with clanging and banging, we know that our “engine” is damaged. This is what Jesus is telling us when He says:
A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. (Luke 6:45, HCSB)
If we get our heart right, then our words will be right. God calls us to check our hearts so that our life is pleasing to Him. When our heart is right, our life is aligned with Him, and our words will strengthen our relationships.
2. The heart is the engine of our life.
The Bible describes the heart as the “engine” of our life. The heart is the spring from which our life flows (Prov 4:23). It is the engine of our character. It is the source of the spiritual, moral, intellectual, and emotional aspects of our life. All the ingredients that are necessary for relationships begin in the heart. So, if we want healthy relationships, we need to begin with a healthy heart.
3. Guard our heart.
If we want healthy relationships, we need to make a determined effort every day to keep guard over our heart.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV)
How do we do it? We allow His Word to invade the very core of our soul (Ps 119:10), saturating our minds and hearts (Ps 119:11). When we meditate on His Word, we find wisdom and satisfaction (Ps 119:97-104), and God’s Word guides our lives with every decision (Ps 119:105). His Word gives us comfort and joy in troubling times (Ps 119:143). For every circumstance, God’s Word becomes the fortress around our hearts, and our conversations will show it.
Today, ask God to take you on a journey through His Word. As you read His Word, pray for God to pinpoint any attitude, ambition, habit, or behavior that is not aligned to His will. Ask the Holy Spirit to apply Scripture to the out-of-tune places in your heart. Our words will then become instruments in God’s hands to create health in our relationships.
Words have power. They have the power to help or hurt, to build up or tear down, to bless or to curse. Our words aren’t neutral. What we say and how we say it can be a source of strength or a cause of great pain. When it comes to our relationships, our words matter.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)
When Paul wrote these words to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, he was offering them divine insight into navigating their relationships. As we read these words from the Bible, I pray that God would apply His truth to our life, our words, and our relationships.
1. Stop using worthless words.
Paul says corrupting speech is contrary to Jesus Christ and the new way of life He has given us. “Corrupting talk” can point to words that are useless, but it probably has something more malicious in mind. It’s when we use our words to hurt someone, including deceitful words and malicious gossip. We must stop wounding our relationships with worthless words. We must refuse to let even one rotten word pour out of our mouths.
2. Use only words that build others up.
Instead of rotten words, we must build up others through our words so that people around us are swirling in Christ’s grace rather than salacious sewage. Paul says that our words must be good for edifying and grace-giving.
Edifying words include communication that helps to build up what is lacking in the lives of others. Grace-giving words include communication that empowers our friends and family to pursue what God wants by living in His power. The goal is to build up, not tear down.
Jesus wants us to know that our words matter. He gave a warning to a group of religious leaders of His day:
“I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36, HCSB)
God takes our words seriously, and so should we. Now, I know that words don’t fix every relationship or fix everything in a relationship. There are many times deeper issues that need to be navigated, but the words we use do matter, and they can only help a relationship flourish.