Building with words

by | Mar 7, 2016

At the first CCL event for the year (next week on March 17), our main speaker Lionel Windsor will be focusing on the many striking lessons that the book of Ephesians has for us on how we should speak as Christians in an online world.

My contribution will be a short talk on ‘Building with words’, which is a funny way to build when you think about it.

What does Paul mean when he says “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building” (in Eph 4:29)? What sort of thing do you build with the right sort of talk? And how is this done?

I can easily see how you build sheds or houses or bridges by putting their different components together. I can envision how you can build an organization or a team or even an empire by assembling and mobilising the necessary people and resources and products and activities.

But what can you build with vibrations in the air that our ears pick up and our brains interpret—that is, with words? How can something as insubstantial as a word ‘build’ anything of concrete or lasting value?

Mind you, it must be possible, because the New Testament says more than once that we can and should build with words. Jesus says that listening to his words is like laying a foundation on which a solid, storm-resistant house is built. And Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, says that the one essential criterion for working out which words we should speak in church is that they build (or ‘edify’ as the older translations put it).

If we’re going to follow Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4, and speak online in a way that is “good for building”, we need to understand how words build, and which words build. And that’s what my words (next Thursday night, March 17) will be about.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Read. Watch. Listen.

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