Words are so powerful. They are used to convey emotions, thoughts, ideas, feelings, dreams, and hopes that we have. Words and how we speak are an expression of who we are.
Think about that last sentence for a minute. How we speak is an expression of ourselves. It reveals something about our character, our standards, and what we value. If we speak flippantly, then people will see that we just don’t care. If our words are negative or disparaging, then people will see that we are selfish and care only about our own comfort. If we speak encouraging and uplifting words, then people will see in us a goodness that is not our own.
So how should we, as Christians, speak? How can we most effectively show others the love of Christ through the words we say?
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. ~Ephesians 5:3-5
When I first heard those verses, it really struck me. Especially verse four: And there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
What does that mean exactly? The first things that come to my mind are swearing, rudeness, sarcasm, name-calling, complaining, and frivolity. All of which I am guilty.
This has been very hard for me to swallow. I’ve always thought that I talk pretty cleanly – I mean, at least I don’t swear or anything as bad as that. But I can’t even honestly say that. I am guilty of swearing. Just because I use minor expletives such as ‘shoot’ and ‘gosh’ doesn’t change the fact that I am swearing. And what are the origins of those words? You can probably guess.
The way we speak may not seem important to us, but it is to God. He wants us to speak in a way that respects others and glorifies Him. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).” His desires should be ours as well.
I’ve been studying the book of James this month. James is such a wonderful little book; I love it. It talks quite a bit about the tongue and how we use it.
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. ~James 3:8-10
We are created in the image of God. We, as Christians, are supposed to represent Him in this world of darkness. We are to be imitators of Christ; but are we really? The way we speak and treat others shows so much of who we are. What is the world seeing when they look at us? Are they seeing the Light of Christ?
Each of us have our own particular struggles. Some of us may have more trouble with how we speak than others. That’s just how it is. But until we reach perfection, there is always room for growth. Challenge yourself this week to speak in a more God-honoring way. Instead of saying something rude or unwholesome, give thanks. Strive to be like Christ. It’s what you were made for.