Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
-Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
A saprophyte is an organism that lives on dead or decaying matter. In general terms, it’s often used to describe fungi or bacteria. The name derives from the Greek word sapros which means “rotten” or “putrid”.
And that’s the same word Paul used here when talking about “corrupting talk”.
So it should be no surprise that Paul contrasts speech that breaks down and destroys with speech that builds up and strengthens. And that’s why this verse is about more than “cuss words”. It’s about any dialogue whose aim is to hurt rather than help. It’s about any language that is detrimental of those discussed. It’s about not respecting the innate, God-ordained value inside everyone, and speaking to and about them as such.
Paul tells us to be the type of people who understand the power of our words and choose to use them to build, revitalize, and encourage. To be a blessing, not a curse. To be givers of life, and not takers.
Something that lives off of the destruction and deterioration of others? That’s not behavior consistent with a Christian.
That’s called a saprophyte.
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth…”
-Ephesians 6:14 (NASB)
At first glance this seems like a slightly inappropriate request from Paul. Girding your loins? What does that even mean?
During the time that Paul wrote this, girding your loins was a familiar practice. People who wore tunics, particularly soldiers when preparing for battle, would often draw up and tie the lower part of their garment between their legs. This prevented the loose ends of the tunic from getting tangled up with your feet or caught on something and ultimately causing you to fall. Girding your loins increased your stability, mobility and agility.
It’s kind of like the more modern-day expression of “rolling up your sleeves.” It’s saying, “Get ready, because this isn’t going to be easy.”
Spiritually, I think Paul was making the analogy that our day-to-day spiritual life will be a battle, and we better be ready to fight. Anything that will cause us to stumble or restrict us needs to be girded — strapped down and taken care of beforehand. And notice what he says it should be girded with… Truth. With any things that might slow us down, such as our doubts and fears, we first must ask the question, “How do these thoughts compare to God’s truth?”
It’s really all about spiritual preparation. Paul is warning us that the battle ahead is tough. We must be spiritually alert, sharp and ready at all times, and do whatever it takes.
Even if that means you must gird your loins.