Q: How do we know when we are crossing a line from positive to sinful talk?
Suggested Daily Reading: James 3
A: Language is a precious gift that God has given us. Speech separates us from animals. If I offered you $1 million would you give up your ability to speak, hear and understand language for the rest of your life? Language is valuable and important because it:
- Is a precious gift of God
- Reflects our thoughts and personality
- Influences others
- Is a power for good or evil
- Makes us accountable to God
God gave us the gift of speech in order to use words in a careful, polite, noble, pure, holy and reverent way. We cross a line from a positive use of words to a negative use when our words become the opposite, i.e. careless, disrespectful, degrading, obscene, cursing or profane.
Imagine the following scenario: Elaine observed a younger girl at her high school carrying a load of books, supplies and her purse. As the girl rounded a busy corner in the hallway, she tripped and everything she was carrying went flying. Laughter and whistling filled the air with joking comments like, “Way to go there Graceful!” “Walk much?” The deeply-embarrassed and flustered girl, bent down and tried to pick up all her stuff between the feet of those laughing at her. Observing this, Elaine rushed to her side and bent down to help her pick up her things. “Don’ t worry about it, we’ve all done this,” she commented. The relieved girl smiled a bit and sighed, “Yes, but not in front of everybody!” “Oh, tomorrow you’ll laugh about it,” Elaine responded. Can you distinguish the speech that was careless, disrespectful and degrading in this example from that which was careful, polite and noble?
Avoid all speech that mocks with God’s names, God’s attributes (e.g. “goodness gracious” or “holy smoke”), God’s dwelling place (e.g. “for heaven’s sake”), God’s punishments (e.g. “damn” or “hell”), or God’s amazing creation (e.g. obscene or degrading references to human sexuality).
What is your speech and use of language like? Are you praying and working to reduce your misuse, and increase your positive use of words? Words can promote God’s honor and help others, or the opposite. Which is your speech promoting?