One of the resolutions many people make at the beginning of a new year is to go on a diet. I've found that for quite a while my diet has been filled with foods that contain "empty calories". Empty calories have the same energy content of any other calorie but lack accompanying nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals. They taste really good but in the long run they are not good for you. They are out of place in a healthy diet and consequently their consumption needs to be reduced or even eliminated.
The problem is that once we get into the habit of eating them, it becomes rather difficult to just give them up. One strategy for dealing with this is to substitute "good" foods that are healthy and nutritious at those times we would normally eat "bad" foods. It may be tough to do in the beginning, but eventually we find ourselves feeling better as a result of the change in our diet.
This is a strategy that can also work in other areas of our lives. In today's reading we're told we should neither utter obscenities, nor engage in foolish talk or coarse joking because these are out of place in the life of a believer. These are empty words that lack both wholesomeness and encouragement for others. Like empty calories, they are ultimately not good for us (or anyone else for that matter). They, too, ought to be eliminated but the habit of speaking in this manner can likewise be a difficult one to break.
However, just as we can replace empty calories with "good" foods, we can replace empty words with "good" words. Today's reading tells us that words of thanksgiving are preferred over empty words. And while this substitution may be difficult to do at first, as with our food diet, we'll eventually find ourselves feeling better about the change in our conversational diet.
Dear Lord, help us be conscious of the words we speak today. May those words that are out of place not leave our lips but instead be replaced with those that are pleasing to you and helpful for building others up according to their needs. Amen.
- Mark Vereb