Words Have Consequences

I like words. They fascinate me.That makes me think about language and its use. I’m thinking about how words can be good and bad; how with words we build up or tear down. I’m too free with them sometimes, using them to be funny, puns, etc.  They can also chastise, correct and manipulate. Best of all they can raise up with encouragement, motivate, instruct and enable.

Words can become weaponry; as in a social context of belonging to a group; empowering and cheering someone on as in a game or sporting event. 

There are categories of words which become insider language, in the context of the Christian Church, of politics, of people in the medical field, of sports and so forth. 

I’m concerned about the “intrusion” of inappropriate words in to the wholesome way Christians ought to speak. When I say they are an “intrusion” what I mean is how easily we can imitate the world around us. Too many people, including Christians, are too free to use the D…, H…, S… words… and worse. 

I consider this to be coarse language which can be offensive. Certainly scripture has some words of correction, admonition and warning about this. In the letter written by James, half brother of Jesus, speaking about the power of the unbridled tongue, he says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:6 This scorching remonstrance we dare not forget.

In Ephesians, Paul states the case for good speech and appropriate deportment this way. “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking which are out of place.” Eph 5:4 “Let there be no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion,” (and here’s the kicker), …”that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph. 4:29  

Using God’s name loosely is the warning that comes from the Ten Commandments. “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.” 

Ex 20:7 Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount, “Do not take an oath at all,” “Let what you say be simply yes or no; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matt 5:34a, 37 In this matter of oaths, Jesus ties his instruction regarding speech to the OT by requiring truth in all manner of communications. Certainly the context has to do with truth telling and not false telling. But even when coarse language is used it broadcasts a falsity of who God is, thus using his name in vain.

Jesus call us to accountability. Seems to me our words, as Christians, should be used to attract others; build them up, entice them to live lives of fruitfulness, faithfulness, quality, etc.

I want to increase my vocabulary and be able to use words with depth of meaning. I want to  express myself with the right emotion, without equivocation; without redundancy. I want to be a truth teller. I consider myself somewhat educated which for me is a way to rise above in communication of the sort that tears others down. I don’t want to make others feel creepy, as  I sometimes fell when inappropriate language is dumped on me. I feel like I need to take a shower and wash off the volley of words. 

Words are a treasure chest of viable, valuable, voluminous options to communicate. I want to let my yes be yes and my no be no as Jesus admonished/instructed us. While I don’t use coarse language, I certainly don’t need to vilify others, even if I use good words but have the wrong motivation. I do need to work on consistency of words that build up, encourage and reward. And when I need to speak truth in to someone’s life, I need to do it with truth and love. Again, Paul defines this for us, “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is head, into Christ…” Eph 4:15

Oh that we all would understand our lives to be hidden in Christ and resolve to endeavor to speak appropriately. 

About collardg

A knight errant; defender of honor and promoter of integrity among men of good will and Christ's Kingdom dwellers.
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