Words are just words, right? Does it matter what we say? As Christ-followers, I want to discuss swearing, crude jokes, suggestive comments, harshness, sarcasm, and other manner of off-colored conversations. Does it really matter that much?
Perhaps the better question is: Does the Word of God have anything to say about this topic?
If we truly follow Christ then we should care deeply about what He says in the Bible. We can’t just brush this stuff aside. Every Scripture is profitable for teaching and rebuking! What comes out of your mouth matters. It matters to God. It matters when it comes to kingdom work.
Check out these verses:
Proverbs 15:1-4, 7, 12, 23, 26, 28
A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Keeping watch on the evil and the good.
4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,
But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge,
But the heart of the fool does not do so.
12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him,
Nor will he go to the wise.
23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!
26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
But the words of the pure are pleasant.
28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
Ephesians 5:3-4, 11-12
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.
36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
2 Timothy 2:16
16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips
11 Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of wisdom.
I hope you thoroughly read all those verses, because they pretty much said it all! I don’t have much to add to that.
When we are in Christ, that should change everything about us. We no longer spew the same profane language that we used to. We no longer find those dirty jokes to be funny. Talking carelessly or foolishly about sacred things now causes unrest in our spirit. Yelling at people or speaking to them harshly incites guilt.
And if you haven’t changed at all in the area – or you’re growing in it, looking more and more like the world, I believe your next step is to search the Scripture and repent of sins that it points out.
Turn away from filthy language and start again.
We claim to love Jesus Christ. And He is pure! Beautiful. Holy. Good. Majestic. Awesome. Lovely. Wholesome. Worthy. Beginning and End.
Do we really think our harsh language and yucky jokes or comments reflect Him well?
Not at all!
Think about it. Do you feel good about yourself after swearing, sharing a dirty joke, making an inappropriate sexual comment, talking with selfish sarcasm, or conversing irreverently about sacred things? Does it draw you closer to God? Does it benefit your listeners? Does it spur your brothers and sisters on toward the Lord? Does it sharpen them? Does it encourage you and them in your walk with the Lord? Does it reflect Christ, or do you think it might grieve the Holy Spirit within you? (Who bought you at a great price!)
Do you really think filthy language honors Christ whom you say you serve?
29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
We are Christ’s ambassadors here on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We’re to reflect Him, serve Him, and bear His name worthily.
So let us try to do that, starting with the words that come out of our mouth.
Bridling the tongue is hard, so accept God’s limitless strength and boundless mercy & grace for you.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.