The Talk Behind Our Backs!

During our recent Texas vacation to visit family, we took a day trip northwest of Austin to Marble Falls. This attractive little community of 6,000 is situated on the Colorado River and attracts visitors and prospective residents seeking the slower pace of hill country living. The shelf of limestone cutting diagonally across the town's lake has a brownish exterior on its upper layer that could easily be mistaken for marble. Back in the days before the damming of the river, this waterway created a natural waterfall giving the town its distinctive name, Marble Falls.

After passing through the downtown area with its restaurants, shops and art galleries, we drove up to Lakeside Park where we stopped, got out of our car and walked around to take it all in. Standing just above the beach of Lake Marble Falls, we looked out at a modern bridge spanning the bluffs in the distance. While standing there, Marc, our son who is a graphic design artist at his core, loves to capture moments using his phone camera. He took a picture of his parents standing under the shade of a beautiful tree high up and along the bank of the river and lake.

He said. She said.

I couldn’t remember what Monique and I were talking about in that moment. We could have been silently taking in the whole scene and how beautiful it was. Or we could have been thinking about how perfect the weather was that particular day. We could have been chatting about any number of subjects. We often enjoy celebrating our personal and family blessings which are many! 

It was in that moment that Marc photographed us. His mother’s hair was windblown in the light breeze! His dad was leaning forward in a characteristic slumped-shoulder-stance with hands behind him as if imitating royalty. For us, this pic was a keeper! 😀 

Here’s something to ponder… What are people thinking, saying or doing behind your back? They say, “Teachers have eyes in the back of their heads!” I know that as a rambunctious school age boy that I didn’t get by with anything around my teachers or parents! The truth is that we never know what is going on when we aren’t looking and sometimes we don’t know even when we are! I’m sure there are many comments being made about us. Some of them start with the leading question like the gossip who teases, “Did you hear such and such about so and so?” It’s true that people will talk! They do! And yes, we do, too!

We do not know all of the concerns behind Paul’s scriptural admonition to the church at Ephesus. In the larger context, he does mention falsehoods, anger, bitterness, and slander. But, this passage definitely speaks to us today and is an excellent principle to consider in our daily communications. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29). Now, that verse is a mouthful of instruction… and it’s supposed to be!”

When studying a Bible passage, I like to highlight “load-bearing” words or phrases. This slows me down and makes me think through the passage. There are several key words in this verse: do not, unwholesome talk, mouths, helpful, building…up, their needs, that it may benefit. You could spend considerable time thinking about, praying through, and journaling about the words of this command as you apply them to your speech and daily life. Eugene Peterson had a gift for paraphrasing great passages. Here’s his summary, “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (The Message).

Some people have a reputation for having a sharp tongue. They often boast about speaking their minds. But, God teaches that we should be known for just the opposite! May our prayers and practices be that the everyday words of our mouths are wholesome, encouraging, helpful and of benefit to all! Think on these things!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 



  1. Very well said! Sometimes I find myself wrapped up in a negative conversation and I’ve learned to walk away or change the subject. It’s simple… if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all. Life is so short and we need to embrace all of it with love!

  2. I’m also reminded that when people are talking about you, that saying of “Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business”

  3. As ever, your teaching point flows from the blessed ordinary moments of your life. Thank you for bringing up this scripture from Paul because we do well to recommit to living a life that is attractive, life-giving and loving. I appreciate the paraphrased version by Eugene Peterson to add some different color and feeling to Paul's admonition. Thank you for the gift of your writing Mike.

    1. Thanks, Dan! You are always so gracious! with your words!


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