Language is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. No other creature has been given such a gift. Through language or words, we can express a host of things to one another including our feelings, ideas, fears, beliefs, knowledge, opinions, etc. The list is virtually endless. But also through language, we can receive communication from God, and we can speak with Him! Words are so precious, so vital, so necessary to a good life and good relationships. The question arises, then: Do we make good use of our opportunities to speak with others? Do we have command of our language? Do we know the things which God would have us say to one another?
In our text, the Holy Spirit by Paul is instructing us in the proper and good use of our words. Of course, nothing “unwholesome” is to be spoken. The word in the Greek literally means “rotten!” This would most certainly include vulgar and profane words, but also under consideration would be words which hurt other people such as gossip, slander, harsh and unnecessary criticism, etc. The basic thrust of the text is that words are to be used to accomplish good.
Paul writes that our words are to be “good for edification” so as to “give grace to those who hear.” We need to understand at least three things here. First, edification mean to build up. In this case, our words are for the building up, strengthening and encouraging of others. Second, those same words are to show grace or favor to those to whom they are spoken. Our words are to be a blessing to others.
Lastly, to do this we must be taking into consideration those with whom we are speaking - their needs, their problems, their labor in the Lord, etc. It seems we talk about “everything under the sun” (especially ourselves), but we are not very skilled at speaking words of edification and grace to others. Would this not mean we need to take a real interest in others? To know them? To love them? Words of grace - a powerful tool for strengthening others.