Entirely out of place is … silly … talk … – Ephesians 5:4
I like my translation of Ephesian 5:4. In fact, I probably said some version of this to my kids a thousand times when they were young: Hey, guys. That’s enough silly talk!
Truth be told, though, “Silly” is actually a rather silly translation of this word. “Foolish” is better – and “foolish” in the more truly biblical sense of the word. In scripture, one of the highest ideals is wisdom; foolishness is the utter opposite of wisdom. Foolishness is not being wise. It is not following God’s ways. One Bible Dictionary translated “silly talk” as “speech flowing out of a dull, sluggish heart.” (The italics there are actually their emphasis!) So what the Apostle is probably really saying in this phrase is: Hey, guys. That’s enough talk that’s dull, sluggish, and unwise.
Or even more accurate: That’s enough talk that’s just flat out against God and his ways.
Now, if you were paying attention – and I’m sure you were – I used three sets of “three dots” when quoting this verse from Ephesians 5:4. And so the question is: What goes in place of those ellipses? Well, if we more accurately translate “silly” as “ungodly,” then the first half of this verse reads: “Entirely out of place [in the life of a Christian] is obscene, ‘ungodly,’ and vulgar talk …” That’s what the Apostle is warning the family of God about.
Now, let’s move to the good and truly live-giving part of this verse by viewing a little of the context … After telling “1 God’s beloved children” to “1 be imitators of God … 2 and live in love … as … a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” the Apostle Paul sets some wise boundaries for God’s people. He warns us to avoid “3 sexual immorality,” “3 moral impurity” and “3 greedy motives.” He tells us to silence any “4 obscene talk,” “4 ungodly words,” “4 vulgar discourse,” and “4 empty utterances.” Instead, the Apostle calls us to live victoriously, remembering, “8 once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light”!
I find that inspiring, and in a wonderful way, it drives me now back to our verse … and, I want you to think about this:
We’re living in a very unique season in our world right now. Quarantines are spreading faster than the virus. (Medically, that’s a good thing.) But we’re all likely to be “shut in” a little more frequently with those we live with. (We’re going to be living a little bit on top of one another!) As we do, I urge you to adopt an Ephesians 5:4 mindset (and I’m going to use the word “silly” and quote it literally from my translation) …
Entirely out of place is…
silly … talk; but instead,
let there be thanksgiving.
Imagine a hundred million houses adopting that mentality!
In Christ’s Love,
a guy who remembers
another verse from Ephesians
that we used with our kids
(and a verse that I sometimes
need to remember myself):
“Only used words that build up;
don’t use words that tear down”
Ephesians 4:29, paraphrased