Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying…
The apostle gives us a lesson on the use of the tongue.
I. NEGATIVELY: WE ARE TO UTTER NO CORRUPT SPEECH.
1. It argues a corrupt heart; for "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, false witness, blasphemies" (Matthew 15:19). It is thus the tongue "defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature" (James 3:6). It is "out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).
2. Corrupt speech is a fearful perversion of the noble/'acuity of speech with which God has endowed us. It is a melancholy fact that "out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing" (James 3:10).
3. Corrupt speech has the power of destruction. It takes root outside of us, perhaps in some young heart, which it "sets on fire of hell." How true it is that "death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21)!
4. Corrupt speech is irrevocable. No words of ours may be able to undo the mischief caused by it.
5. Corrupt speech is reserved for the fire of judgment. (Matthew 12.)
II. POSITIVELY: WE ARE TO USE EDIFYING SPEECH. "That which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
1. Eddying speech. It must be speech that will tend to build up the hearers in faith, holiness, and wisdom. It must be salutary speech, calculated to improve both heart and mind, tending to make men wiser and better.
2. It must, as the original words signify, be speech guided according to the needs of men. We must consider the different dispositions, views, and wants of those we converse with, so as to speak with effect. We should not "cast our pearls before swine" (Matthew 7:6), nor "speak in the ears of a fool who will despise the wisdom of our words" (Proverbs 23:9), but rather use a happy dexterity in accommodating religious discourse to different persons and occasions. A word in season may be blessed to the conversion of a soul. Milton says, "A word has changed a character, and a character has changed a kingdom."
3. The design and effect of such discourse is "that it may minister grace unto the hearers." It discovers the grace that is in our own hearts, and is the means of working it in the hearts of others. Therefore "our speech ought to be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that we may know how to answer every man' (Colossians 4:6). - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.