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It’s been over 30 years, but I still remember him. His name was Rick, and he helped lead our class of Jr. High boys at church. Rick was a practical guy; he had a “use it or lose it” mentality towards things in his life. In fact, he passed on having living room furniture in his house because he never planned on using it, and instead he spent the money on a boat and took people out on the lake and invested in cultivating Kingdom relationships. Rick took that same practical mindset to the lesson we were studying that morning.

We dove into the words recorded in Ephesians 4:29:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

That morning, Rick challenged us to consider how many of our words violated a “4-29” (something our room full of sarcastic teenage boys could quickly think of). He lovingly, graciously, but truthfully challenged us to spur one another on and call each other (and ourselves) out if we committed a "4-29."  Turns out it was something a large portion of the room was up to (I think at that time we were more interested in calling each other out than ourselves, something else he would have to teach us about).

What I still remember about that lesson was how often and mindlessly I would violate God’s invitation to make our words count for good. So this week I’m asking the Spirit to call out my "4-29's" in hopes that my words will be ones that pay it forward with kindness, grace, encouragement, and all things good.

Are you up for the same challenge?