Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,but only what is helpful for building others upaccording to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.(Eph. 4:29)

In ancient Greece, someone approached the philosopher Socrates with some gossip about a mutual friend. The old man asked the tattletale three questions: Are you absolutely sure that what you’re about to tell me is true? Are you about to tell me something about my friend that is good? Are you about to tell me something that is useful to me? Since the man answered no to all the questions, the philosopher told him to keep the gossip to himself.

Paul gave us the biblical version of the popular guideline “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, it’s better to simply not say anything at all.” Socrates certainly understood this concept. If information about a person wasn’t confirmed as true, esteemed as good, or in any way useful, the bearer is better off keeping the information to him- of herself.

Let’s set the bar high for the words coming out of our mouths. First and foremost, never say anything you don’t mean. Think before speaking. And when you do say something, consider how your words are going to impact the person who hears them. If the purpose of what you’re about to say is redemptive, and conveyed in a loving manner, then you can be reasonably assured of meeting Paul’s standard for the type of speech that is “seasoned with salt.”

Encourage someone before the end of the week.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor; he is also the small-grou