I have seen a trend in believers in recent years and, to be honest, I find it disheartening; how we use our tongue and the type of speech we utter. Please know I am not (at least I don’t think I am) being self-righteous here. I just wonder if we are allowing the world to mold us in this area, rather than the transforming work of the Spirit.
Changing culture/changing times.
One of the biggest defenses I’ve heard of what I might consider foul speech is that times are changing. Words that were considered foul (R rated) a decade ago are accepted in society today. Even our new president has publicly displayed what used to be considered a potty-mouth.
Words we use in this country are not so bad in England and vice versa. And with television so global, all language has been up for grabs, to be used as is deemed best for the art. When I was little, you couldn’t say the word pregnant on the air. Twenty years later All In The Family was breaking many taboos of using 4 letter words.
There is no doubt about it, times change. The pendulum swings one way and then, eventually, it swings back the other.
I guess for me, the question isn’t whether the times have changed, but does God direct how we are to use our speech. Because, after all, my conduct shouldn’t be dictated by the culture around me but by the Word of God.
Taming the tongue.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
OUCH! This verse always stings me. While I don’t use curse words or four-letter words, I still find myself saying things simply because I didn’t bridle (control) my tongue.
Do we ever:
- say harsh, vulgar or cruel things in anger to hurt someone?
- say harsh, vulgar or cruel things to elevate ourselves and put others down?
- say harsh, vulgar or cruel things in joking at another’s expense?
- say harsh, vulgar or cruel things because others around us are doing it too?
- say harsh, vulgar or cruel things to show how really bugged we are?
- lie or exaggerate?
I’m sure all of us would have to answer yes. If you’ve never done these things, then as the scripture says:
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:2
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:10
James speaks so much about the tongue in Chapter 3. If you haven’t read it recently, I suggest you click on the link and read it. I don’t know about you, but every.single.time I read it, I am convicted about something in how I speak.
God never changes.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18
Wisdom is talked about so much in Proverbs. We are told to pursue her (yes, wisdom is personified in the Proverbs), to actively seek after her. Growing in wisdom, God’s wisdom, is a blessing in our lives and is central to our transformation into the image of Jesus. God’s wisdom is so completely different from the culture of the world around us.
The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. Prov 16:21
The question I ask (and I ask myself as much as anyone else) is which wisdom guides my tongue? The wisdom of the world which focuses on my own selfish ambition? Or the wisdom of God which is pure and full of mercy and good fruits?
Let us be a people who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, bridles our tongues to speak blessing and love and truth rather than vulgarity and coarseness and hatefulness against anyone.