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
Just a few verses before Paul the Apostle says, "put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour" (Ephesians 4:25) for his plea from the heart of the Lord is that we are all a part of the same body of Christ. When we speak against another in the Christian Church we speak against ourselves because we are so connected together as a body spiritually. Just like in a marriage when one argues and says hurtful words against the other, both are wounded, both hurt. When we say a word it can either build someone up or tear someone down, we are building brick upon brick with our words or tearing them down. When we speak words that are "unwholesome" and hurtful we not only wound ourselves and the other person but the very Holy Spirit of God who dwells in us grieving him. When we speak to accuse someone remember that our Lord suffered on the cross and men hurled accusations at him (Matthew 27:39, Luke 23:39). In the Old Testament there was a very serious judgment on those who bore false witness (Deuteronomy 19:15-21). Essentially it was not taken lightly when one fellow Israelite would accuse another of a sin. The Old Testament is replete with God himself judging and correcting his people therefore the people of God in many ways left this all to God. For to bear false witness not stating the exact full truth was considered lying and breaking the holy commandment of God.
If you see sin in someone else, look to yourself and see it in you. If you were hurt by a brother or sister in the Lord forgive them as Christ forgave you. Talk as those redeemed who see all others with the grace that was given to you freely. St. Kosmas Aitolos says, “If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye, as a Christian it is my duty to forgive him. We who are pious Christians ought to love our enemies and forgive them. We ought to offer them food and drink, and entreat God for their souls. And then we should say: ‘My God, I beseech Thee to forgive me, as I have forgiven my enemies.’” Saul was a zealous religious man who martyred many of the original believers. He became an Apostle and Disciple of Jesus, we see the early Christians extending love and forgiveness to this murderer. We can imagine seeing one of the early widows whose husband was martyred by Saul inviting him to a meal. As they eat a tear runs down her face, not because of even the loss of her husband, but the grace of God that overcomes all evil and brings great good. When we as the Church forget this and accuse and hurt each other, we forget the very love of God that bought us with such a great price. Father, show us again the great cost of the blood of your Son, so that we can forgive all wrongs against us and be light and salt in this earth. Amen.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon