I have a friend that works in the publishing world, and a few weeks ago he was formatting a book before sending it off to the printer. The “final” copy was in hand, so he ordered a hundred copies of the new book and waited eagerly for them to arrive.
Two days after he placed the order, one of the editors from his team called him with urgent news—she had found a significant typo, on the cover page of the book! A last-minute change had occurred to the title, and the first page of the book, called the cover page, had been changed incorrectly.
Instead of reading: Secret Baggage: from Bondage to Freedom the book’s cover page said, “Secret Baggage: from Freedom to Bondage.
Personally, I don’t know what the big deal was. After all, he had all the same words on both titles, it’s just the words were mixed up a little. But seriously, who cares? Does it really matter that much?
Well yes, because words matter! And If I’m going to pick up a book about my secret baggage, you better believe I want to know how to move from bondage to freedom, not from freedom into bondage! (I gave him a few other working titles: “From Grace to Law,” or “From Light to Darkness.” Strangely, he wasn’t amused.)
You can imagine the panic my buddy felt, and thankfully, he was able to stop the presses (literally!) and get the corrected version sent to the printer before thousands of copies of the book entered circulation. Even though the words were the same, the order of those words was critical and he was about to send out a book with a drastically different message than he intended.
In Ephesians 4:29 Paul writes, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
When I’m traveling on the road I work hard on making my words and interactions with others count. I don’t want to be careless about the things I say, on or off stage, so that I leave someone with a message that is untrue, confusing, or worse—hurtful! I know I’ve made mistakes, and likely will again, but when I keep Ephesians 4:29 at the front of my mind, I am way more likely to be more cautious about what comes out of my mouth.
Notice how Paul says, “Let everything you say be good and helpful,” not just some things, but everything. And not just passable, but helpful to others. And then he finishes, “…so your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Imagine if every word you spoke to someone else was helpful and encouraging? Imagine if every words spoken to you was helpful and encouraging? This world would be a very different place and it all starts with the words we use every single day.
Here’s a great challenge for you this week: memorize Ephesians 4:29. Tuck this Bible verse into your memory banks and hopefully it will help you like it has helped me!