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.
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Last week we started looking at the so-called little sins that we as Christians like to let slide in our lives. These are the "minor" weaknesses we indulge even as we console ourselves with the thought, "I'm not perfect, but at least I'm not doing that!" The problem with this is that God hasn't called us to be a little bit better than those around us. He has called us to imitate His perfection; and He makes a big deal about all sins, even the ones we like to think are minor.
It isn't that rare for me to have teenagers ask me a question like "Why is cussing wrong?" The simple truth is that curse words are in many ways just societal constructs. Let me explain. Think of a curse word and see if you can think of another word or phrase that means exactly the same thing but is not considered cursing. It is pretty easy to do. There are acceptable substitute phrases for almost every curse word you know. For example, why is it acceptable to say poop or crap but sh*t is considered a curse word? Because our society says it is. Now Christians can turn our nose up at this and try to be counter-cultural but if we do it is Christ's name that suffers. Christians are ambassadors for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20). We represent Him and we are called to be all things to all people on His behalf so that by all means we might win as many as possible for the gospel (I Corinthians 9:19-23).
However, Scripture speaks less about curse words specifically and more about the type of speech that comes out of our mouths generally. Why is God so concerned about what we say? Because our words reveal the condition of our hearts. Matthew 12:34 says, "The mouth speaks what the heart is full of," and then goes on to say that "everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken." When your speech is laced with profanity and rough joking and belittling comments, then the condition of your heart is apparent not only to God but also to those around whom you are supposed to be serving as Christ's ambassador. This week I encourage you to make Psalm 19:14 your prayer, "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
For further reading...
- Ephesians 5:4- Obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking.
- I Corinthians 9:19-27- Run to get the prize.
- Deuteronomy 6:6-7- This is what we should be talking about!
- Colossians 3:17- Whatever you do...