If you missed it, be sure and check out Part I.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment.”

When we read the first part of this principle, we may think it’s telling us to avoid the use of “bad” words. However, that is not necessarily what this is saying. We give weight to words. In some instances, that is appropriate. But in others, it is not.

Words only hold power if we allow them to. One person may see a word as “bad,” whereas others may see it as perfectly okay. Sometimes, certain words shouldn’t be used because it’s the wrong situation. In other cases, the words work well.

For example, I generally will not swear in front of my mother. Most people, I assume, probably do the same as me. But with friends, curse words are used as descriptive language and usually don’t offend.

Classifying words as “good” or “bad” has less to do with the words and more to do with the speaker’s context and intention.

If we realize this principle is not referring specifically to curse words, the next logical line of thinking is that it means we shouldn’t say anything that will hurt another. We tend to form this assessment, especially when we combine the first part of the principle with the second. This conclusion is more accurate but still needs work.

When we look at the principle as a whole, it says we should only speak words that uplift the person we are speaking with or improve a moment (or the person we are speaking with). We should share what adds value.

For example, small talk is a great way to open the doors of communication to progress into a more in-depth conversation. However, if individuals cannot go beyond small talk, their words will eventually lose value.

Speaking shouldn’t only be about what we want to say. It should be about what others are ready and able to hear. Part of that means speaking words that bring encouragement to others, so they leave a conversation feeling uplifted and not torn down.

The question is, how do we balance this with the first principle in Part I of this series? How do we speak the truth to others, especially when it is a hard truth to swallow, but still talk to them in a way that encourages them?

We will dive into this question more next month.