Old Habits

By: Walt Seale

Ephesians 4:29

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.


Old habits die hard. Growing up, the manner of speaking among my peers was anything but wholesome. We made an ongoing game of ridiculing each other for all manner of defects, real and imagined. The nicknames we chose for each other often featured some pretty undesirable traits, both physical and mental. We might have said it was all in good fun and without malice, but I’ve since learned that no matter the design, words have power beyond our intentions.

After I decided to change my life for the better, I had to unlearn some habits that still pop up even though I know they are wrong. Early on in the process of cleaning up my act, I had the benefit of knowing good Christian men who modeled good speech for me and gently corrected me as I matured in this area.

Sometimes our work situations throw us together with folks whose manner of speaking doesn’t meet our standards of civility. The mercy and kindness extended to me in this area has allowed me to look past this defect in others to find the person behind the harsh or frank speech.

No one looks forward to being corrected after making a mistake, but as brothers we are obligated to help each other in our pursuit of goodness, holiness and effectiveness in the cause of the Lord. Though correction can sting, the wise man prefers correction to neglect.

We can agree to be accountable to each other in this area. Honestly acknowledging our shortcoming is the beginning of change. Forming new habits— like the habit of encouraging and building up rather than tearing down—is possible, especially when we enlist the help of our brothers.


TAKE THE CHALLENGE: What habits or patterns of speech need to improve in your life?