Okay, before you hand in the towel, hear me out…because I believe we need to place more importance on words than we do. I firmly believe the Bible is quite clear on this subject, and purging the venom from our vernacular is worth more than a fleeting thought.
– The first thing we need to consider before we proceed, is that words in and of themselves are not evil. Sounds and syllables can not be evil any more than an inanimate object can be evil. However; sounds, syllables, and inanimate objects can all be used for evil by humans.
As christians under liberty, we are not given specific commandment as to which words are to be restricted in our speech – but – as children born of the spirit, we ought to have wise discernment of our own attitudes and why we say every word we say. What is the source of our words? If we are speaking out of anger, pride, and contention, then we can know that any words we say, (whether labeled as a “swear” word or otherwise) stem from evil in our hearts and are surely not from God.
Jesus explains this in Matthew 12:35:
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things”
He then continues with a warning in vs. 36-37:
“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
Ouch. Is it true we will be condemned by careless words?
Let a resounding “yes” commence, for Jesus could not be any more plain! Now, with this knowledge, is it not true that we ought to pay special attention to each word that escapes our mouth? If we truly believe the words of our Savior, then again the answer is yes! Rather than being careless with our words we ought to be careful each and every time we speak. Hard as it may be, that often means biting our tongue, chicas.
You know the pattern – many of us ladies are guilty of speaking hastily out of frustration, while being sweet as can be when we’re cooled off. Let’s face it, though; being “sweet” does not erase damage caused by words spoken out-of-turn, nor does doing right when it’s easy make it alright to go off the handle when the going gets tough. Consider James 3:10-11:
“Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”
This “fountain” James speaks of is the human heart; the water, our words. It is not practical for liquid to be only “partially” contaminated. A fountain can either be contaminated or safe, but there is no middle ground. It is the same with our hearts. Can we be 90% sweet while 10% bitter? No! 10% bitter is essentially equal to 100% bitter: because the poison has contaminated the whole fountain.
There are many ways in which our hearts (and furthermore, lips) can proclaim evil.
Maybe we struggle with speaking out of anger. Let us ponder this wisdom of Solomon from Proverbs 14:16-17a:
“A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but a fool rageth, and is confident. He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly…”
Sometimes when we are angry the best method is to remove ourselves from the scene momentarily. I have found that often a little distance is just what is needed to look objectively on the frustrating situation at hand. There is no shame in taking a little breather…let us be as the wise man who “departs from evil” lest we “deal foolishly”!
Perhaps our words have just become downright foolish. Perhaps we have not spent enough time in God’s word and instead of heaping knowledge and understanding to ourselves we have grown dull and complacent, affecting our hearts (and affecting our lips). Let’s hear it from Solomon again in Proverbs 10:13-14 followed by 15:7:
“In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding. Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.”
“The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.”
Notice the phrase “lay up knowledge”. How do we do this? By dwelling in God’s word of course! We can get out of the rut of foolish speech by adding to ourselves wisdom from the Bible. The result? We will “disperse knowledge”!
Maybe our problem is that we have pride in our hearts. Remember, our words come from the abundance of our heart, and what is in the heart will eventually come out of the mouth. In Ecclesiastes 10:12-14 we read:
“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischevious madness. A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him?”
“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
“If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.”
I see a pattern here, do you? The wise man is gracious, and preserves words of boasting, while the foolish man runs off at the mouth, proclaiming his own perceived “greatness”. If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that ultimately we are small in the presence of God, and we must decrease – He must increase! The blessings we have come from The Lord’s hand. When we are tempted to magnify ourselves, we must stop and take a look at who He is again – and glorify Him!
Lastly, many of us simply struggle with talking too much, period. Our words don’t necessarily have to be filled with anger, foolishness, or pride…but sometimes we can be foolish simply by speaking unnecessarily.
“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it till afterwards.”
“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
For some of us, it might be necessary to simply practice being quiet. It is not wise to constantly be speaking, for if we do all the talking, how will we ever hear? If we do not hear, then how will we ever learn? We are not called to never speak, but by the same token we certainly are not wise if we are always speaking. It’s important to find a balance.
Let us not continue to be plagued with a venomous vernacular. Rather, in the spirit of Philippians 4:8, let us fill our hearts with thoughts of the true, the honest, the just, the pure, the lovely, the reputable, the virtuous, and the praiseworthy. Our mouth will reflect the condition of our regenerated heart, we will be a glory to our Lord, and we will be a blessing to all who hear us.
God bless, and take a chill pill!
Mrs. Dustin Bolks
Mrs. Dustin Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.