The Wrestling Match

"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

My husband read this beautiful verse in a church staff meeting today.  He read it slowly, pausing to emphasize each phrase.  That's how the words "according to their needs" stuck out so profoundly.

I usually have a lot I could say.  (Most women do.)

I often have a lot of helpful things to say.

But, to say helpful things...at the right time...in order to meet someone else's needs?  That is the gift I want to be able to give, again and again, to everyone around me.

And so we did that, right there in staff meeting today.  We went around the room and shared what we admired, respected, and appreciated in each staff member. 

And it was amazing.

The entire atmosphere of the room changed.  We entered a slightly tired and more than slightly overworked group of people, and we left with smiles on our faces and a spring in the step.

Because needs were met.  The deep needs that everyone has.  The need for someone else to notice what you do and call it important.  The need to be appreciated.  The need to feel like you're a part of a community who values you as a person and would miss you if you weren't around.

And I've thought about it all day.  How easy it was, really, and yet how hard.  Hard to speak about the impact someone's had on your life when they're right there across the table from you, looking you in the eye.  Harder still to be spoken to and told how special you are in someone's life without feeling the need to deflect it or make a joke.

And why should it be so hard?  Why doesn't it come naturally to build up other people, every day, all the time?  Why doesn't it come naturally to allow ourselves to be built up by another person's words?

And why should it be that hard when gossip and sarcasm come so easily?

This last question must be answered, in every heart where Christ resides.  And not a passing, flippant answer should be given.  It must be wrestled with it until victory is won, with all the poisonous talons of the enemy rooted out and cast aside.  It must be dealt with soundly until Ephesians 4:29 becomes the standard of all thought and every word.

"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." 

May it be so, Lord.  May it be so in me.