Edify

When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify.

Thomas a Kempis

To any who has taken a look around my blog or seen the bio in a couple of my social accounts, this quote will look familiar. I like to keep it around and visible. It is a good motto to have, and I think it lines up with both the message from James, which says we should be quick to listen and slow to speak as well as the Golden Rule.

What do our words mean? I am talking about more than their definitions or etymology. But what are they trying to convey? Are we speaking to harm others? Or are we providing a message of peace, hope, encouragement, and edification? I love that word – edify. A quick google search gives us a definition: “the instruction or improvement of a person morally or intellectually.”

What are you speaking? Look at this quote carefully with the definition. If you look only at the latter, you might focus too much on the instruction and improvement part. Thus, you might think to edify is to imbue all your knowledge and wisdom on everyone at every opportunity. After all, you are instructing or educating them.

But what does Kempis say? Are we to jump in with our great insight at every moment we come upon? Of course not. Instead, he says are are to look for the right and opportune moment, or rather, be ready for it. As James says, be slow to speak and quick to listen. Engage not only verbally but quietly, considering all that is said before speaking. When the time for speaking comes, you can offer something to your listener that will help them either morally or intellectually as their problem demands.

Our words matter. We use them carelessly, but they carry great weight. They have the power to build up and tear down, and we do both regularly. But we are called to a higher purpose, one for edification, for listening, for helping, engaging, and instructing. We are not to speak (or write) at every moment, but at the right moment, at an opportune moment, at moments that will have a great effect and offer great help.

So what will you do with your words? My hope is that you will use them to encourage, educate, and edify when the time for listening and the opportune moment for speaking has come.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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