“And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5:4
Those who remember the Disney classic movie, “Bambi” may remember Thumper the rabbit. In one scene Thumper is caught by his mother saying something about Bambi’s inability to walk. His mother reminded him by saying, “Thumper, what did your father say?” Thumper replied, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”
Thumper’s words may not exactly express what Paul was trying to communicate here, but the point is similar. James also reminds us that using our words, especially those which come from our tongue, can have destructive effects on others. James writes: “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it, we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing.” (James 3:8-10)
Paul is instructing us to change the way we speak to one another in Christ. Instead of using obscene words (filthiness), buffoonish speech (silly talk), or poor humor (coarse jesting), we should RATHER speak to one another with kind words that express the grace and favor of the Lord in our lives (giving of thanks).
The word for “thanks” that Paul uses here in the Greek language (eucharistia) is made up of two words. One is “eu” which means “good.” We know this word as a prefix to “eulogy,” which means “good words.” The person who delivers the “eulogy” at a memorial service is speaking “good words” about the deceased with the purpose to honor them.
The other word that makes up “eucharistia” is “charizomai” which means to “grant as a favor” or to “show kindness” or even “to forgive.” Essentially the word “thanks” used here by Paul means to speak kind words towards one another, whereby we demonstrate God’s grace as we honor one another in the Lord.
Speaking to one another by “giving of thanks” communicates God’s unmerited grace towards us. What is this grace? Paul David Tripp states that God’s grace “rescues us from our spiritual blindness. It releases us from our bondage to our rationalism and materialism. Grace gives us the faith to be utterly assured of what we cannot see. It frees us from refusing to believe in anything we cannot experience with our physical senses. Grace connects us to the invisible One in an eternal love relationship that fills us with joy we have never known before and gives us rest of heart that we would have thought impossible.” The whole purpose for the “giving of thanks” is to freely bestow the goodness of God’s favor upon others with the purpose to build others up in Christ, thereby glorifying Him.
Therefore, as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your family or friends, seek to share God’s grace through Christ by the “giving of thanks” RATHER THAN filthy and unbecoming speech or bad humor. If all else fails, follow Thumper’s example: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”