Has this happened to you? Someone says something about you that is hurtful and insulting and then adds the lame excuse, “I was only joking.” I know of a youth group which adopted the slogan “no hateful words.” Previously, the youth were cutting each other apart, trying to see who could get the loudest laugh, at the expense of the one being “stabbed.” Whether we realize it or not, our words release power to destroy or build up. The Apostle Paul spoke about the power of words by saying, “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” (Eph. 4:29). Throughout my ministry, I have heard people lament, “I don’t think I have a gift or a ministry.” My answer is usually, “Begin where you are.” Ministry is not a title or the attainment of a position, but is more a consistent practice of the servant ministry of Jesus each day. How we use our mouth, for example, is a form of ministry. The responsibility of bearing good fruit in ministry begins by guarding the words which come out of your mouth. Paul’s phrase “unwholesome talk” is the word used for rotten fruit. The opposite of these rotten words are words that “benefit those who listen.” This means we minister grace (the Greek word translated “benefit” in verse 29). So, through the “ministry of our mouths” we get to become vessels of the Holy Spirit, pouring out His grace to others! The other day I was reading about Isaiah the prophet. He spoke about the ministry of his words. “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (Isa. 50:4). Isaiah reminds us that speaking God’s words is first preceded by listening. The principle here is this: If we are good listeners and are filled with God’s thoughts and His Word, then we will “spill over” words of life and grace. Find someone who needs an encouraging word and say something to help them. Don’t overlook the ministry of your words. You can start right now!
Pastor Mark Boucher