"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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
- Ephesians 4:29-30 NIV
I recently heard from a young man who wanted to know what the Bible had to say about using profane language. He said that he had a friend who cursed constantly. When he told his friend that it was a sin against God, and that he wanted him to stop, the friend said that he would - IF it could be proven that Scripture clearly condemned it. I was more than happy to provide this young man with numerous verses from the Bible that supported his claim.
Hearing from this young man reminded me of an experience I had when I was in high school many years ago. I was sitting on the school bus with one of my best friends, when she began spouting a stream of obscenities. I was stunned, and I promptly informed her that cursing was a sin. She then reassured me that it was not a sin, but only using the Lord's name in vain was sinful. At the time, it didn't even occur to me to search the Bible to see if my friend was right. Her explanation sounded logical to me, and it wasn't long before I began using some profane words myself. As I look back on this experience, I realize that it was the perfect example of why Christians need to have a working knowledge of the Bible. If we don't, we will not be able to discern truth from error. Jesus Himself said, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures." (Matthew 22:29 NIV) And the apostle Paul wrote: "Find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10 NIV), and, "Know what His word says and means." (2 Timothy 2:15 TLB)
Paul also wrote: "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Ephesians 5:3-4 NIV) Paul never minced words. He makes it abundantly clear that God holds His children to a higher standard than the world, and He expects our speech to reflect our commitment to Him, and to holiness. Paul says again in Colossians 3:8 (NIV): "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." When you know that someone is a Christian, and you hear them curse or tell a dirty joke, how do you view them? Do you think their coarse language hurts their witness? You bet it does.
The devil delights in trying to make believers think that their speech doesn't matter to God, or that it has no bearing on their Christian witness. It's time that God's people wake up and realize that their sloppy language is not a small thing in the Lord's sight, but that He takes it very seriously. Jesus said: "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37 NIV) Every word that comes out of our mouths is important to God. And when our speech isn't pleasing to the Lord, we grieve His heart. Paul tells us: "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live." (Ephesians 4:29-30 NLT) God gave us the power of speech so that we would use it to glorify Him, and edify others.
My prayer for you today is that you will get serious about the words you allow to come out of your mouth, and that you will continually pray as David did - "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer"! (Psalm 19:12 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for sloppy speech that may have harmed others, or caused them to doubt Your presence in me. Give me a holy fear of You and Your commands, so that I may always please You with my language and my life. Thank You that as I devote myself to You and Your Word, I will touch and change lives for Your glory!
- J. M. Farro