Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Here is the big picture context for these verses: The first three chapters of Ephesians lay a theological foundation for what Paul talks about in the last three chapters of Ephesians.
In chapter four Paul is reminding the Ephesians that they have been given new life in Christ and therefore their lives should look different from those who are not identified with Jesus. As well, he subtly reminds them that they are in a spiritual battle and implores them not to give the devil any kind of a foothold in their lives (verse 27). These verses reflect some ways that this might be happening.
What is “corrupting talk”? The word corrupt is likened to rotten fruit. It refers to anything that is destructive, selfish, and especially grace-less. It might be foul language, gossip, lies, slander, etc. It is language that does not nourish others, that is cancerous, and is harmful – both to the talker and the hearer.
Where does corrupting talk come from? – According to Matthew 12:34-36 it comes from a corrupt heart: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
How do you fix a corrupting talk problem? – If you are a believer, you need to repent and be reminded of the cross and the fact that you are beloved by the Father and seek to imitate Jesus. A good place to start is by watching how Jesus used language in the gospels to help people rather than to hurt people. If you are not a believer, you need a new heart. This is something that only the Lord can do as you come to Him as the Great Physician asking that He would take your heart of stone and replace it with a heart that beats for Him. (Ezekiel 36:26)
May the Lord use this brick to remind you that the Lord wants to use our words to build others up and that starts by having a heart that is overflowing with God and the gospel.