They’re just words. Are they really that big of a deal? Who cares if I talk like everyone else as long as they know I’m a Christian?
A friend of mine noted to me that he’s heard Christians curse one minute, and praise God the next. When he first got saved, he was confused because those peoples’ speech was inconsistent with biblical Christian character.
Even though we may not stop to realize it, our words make a powerful impression on those around us. With them we can gain respect, or damage our testimonies.
So, what does Scripture have to say about speech?
Let’s take a look at 5+ verses about our use of words…
1) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV.)
There are two ways we could look at this verse…
- Words can HURT or they can BUILD UP. Every time we open our mouths, we have the choice of letting death words tumble off our tongues—or letting life words come forth. With each decision comes lasting fruit—sweet or rotten.
- When outsiders hear Christians talking to one another, they shouldn’t hear the inappropriate language they themselves may use. They should be impacted by the purity and restraint of our speech. That first impression is important. If we don’t use words wisely in our Christian walk, unbelievers could have a difficult time seeing a difference between Christ-followers and world-followers. Our words affect their eternal destiny.
2) “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything” (Proverbs 13:3, NLT).
I’m sure I’m not the only one who can testify to the truth in this verse! 😉 Sometimes speaking up is needed—even commanded (In this case, or this one). But oftentimes, the wisest thing we can do is bite our tongues.
Some questions we can ask ourselves before speaking are these…
- Could these words hurt the person I’m talking to?
- Could these words damage my testimony?
- Could these words slander or disrespect someone else?
- Could these words make me look just as foolish as the foolish person I’m answering? (Proverbs 26:4)
…And the list goes on.
3) “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT).
Alright, so the first part says “Don’t use foul or abusive language.”
Well, foul is a matter of opinion right? We could use some curse words that aren’t “so bad” and just avoid the really foul ones. Right?
Not according to Matthew 12:36-37. To God, every word we speak is important, and every careless word goes on our tab. Even the “less foul” ones.
4) “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37, ESV).
Christians truly have no right to throw around inappropriate and careless words. Jesus didn’t—why should His followers?
I could go on with so many aspects the Bible brings out about speech, but the second and last point I’ll make here is concerning gossip—the sand disguised in a bowl of brown sugar.
5) “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler” (Proverbs 20:19, ESV).
Three things to keep in mind about gossip are these:
- Gossip is easy to spread, and can be viciously divisive.
I’ve seen families and churches ripped apart because of gossip. Watch yourself when tempted to speak about someone else or the private matters of others. If the words are meant for slander, and not edification, they shouldn’t be voiced.
- According to the ESV, those who gossip are simple babblers. They have nothing useful to say, and their lifestyle is one we must avoid.
- Gossip is a sly form of deceit. So often it is based on wrong conclusions, false assumptions, or just blatant lies that can crush a person when spread.
Peter charges us with this command: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1, ESV).
A prayer for each of us: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, ESV).
Let’s use our words to bless God constantly, and to set a Christlike example to those who hear us. Be set-apart: by speech.
That wraps up what I’ll say regarding speech 🙂 (for now;)
I hope you’ve enjoyed the Fruit-Loop articles as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them 🙂 Keep a look-out for new things coming soon!