Daily Devotion: Speak Kindly

The next time a biting remark comes to mind say this verse and  bite your tongue instead.

By Erin Keeley Marshall, Rogers, Arkansas

As appeared in

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

I could feel my sarcasm twitching to pounce. The perfect retort was on the tip of my tongue, ready to launch at the arrogant person who deserved to be put in his place. I certainly wasn’t at fault here, and he needed to know how wrong he was.

Fortunately Jesus’ Spirit caught me before I ruined a perfectly good opportunity to act wisely and zip my lip. I love wit; wit is fun. But there’s a fine line between wit and sarcasm, and is there anything positive that comes from sarcasm? I’m pretty sure not.

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Wit is the innocent form of sarcasm, but too often the two meld together and true biting sarcasm develops and begins to cut. Even the word itself sounds on edge: “sar-chasm,” like a foxhole it digs between people. Sarcasm is a divider of hearts, and what every person on God’s green earth needs instead are words that unify, words that gather up frayed ends.

Jesus used plenty of wit as He taught and loved and drew others to truth, but He did not dilute His impact by resorting to sarcasm. I looked up Ephesians 4:29 in several translations. The Message version clarifies the difference between jolly-good wit and more subversive sarcasm.

If each word is a gift, what are we offering someone (or ourselves) with the things we say? Who knows what wrath or arrogance or other destructive trait can be redeemed by the gift of a life-giving word? 

Faith Step: Pray over 1 Peter 3:8–9 (MSG). “Be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless–that’s your job–to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.”