What a frustrating problem pollution is! Everybody suffers with it, yet everybody contributes to it.

Pollution takes many forms, but one type is often overlooked. Charles Swindoll calls it “verbal pollution,” passed around by grumblers, complainers, and criticizers. “The poison of pessimism,” Swindoll writes, “creates an atmosphere of wholesale negativism where nothing but the bad side of everything is emphasized.”

A group of Christian friends became concerned about this form of pollution and their personal part in it. So they made a pact to avoid critical words for a whole week. They were surprised to find how little they spoke! As they continued the experiment, they actually had to relearn conversation skills.

In Ephesians 4, Paul called believers to that sort of decisive action. He said we are to “put off” the old self and its conduct that grieves the Holy Spirit (vv.22,30) and “put on” the new self that builds up others (v.24). As we rely on the help of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), we can make those changes in our conduct, our thinking, and our speaking.

If we want to be rid of verbal pollution, we must choose to change and ask for God’s help. It’s a great way to start cleaning up our spiritual environment.