Check Your Words at the Door, Please
“…From the same mouth come blessing and cursing, My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:10 (ESV)
I remember the gagging rancidity of soap on my tongue. I can’t recall the words I’d muttered, or perhaps it had to do with the way those words were said, but I can still taste the bitter effects.
Directed by my Mom who stood next to the sink, quiet, hands on hips, it was self-delivered punishment. I spit the last of it into the sink and shuddered.
Once was enough.
My father-in-law, a former literature teacher and lover of words used to shake his head at society’s use of profanity and crass words.
“The English language is so rich why would people need to resort to cheap speech?” He’d say.
The richness of language.
The cheapness of speech.
With the political scene as it is, people are talking about talking.
“I mean who doesn’t cuss now and then?” Someone recently said to me.
The lady speaking went on to defend extending grace, and I left uncomfortable with an incongruous mixture of truth and lies.
Because what comes out of our mouths is a problem. It matters because it reveals what’s inside.
“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18(ESV)
Jesus, The Word, Logos, made Flesh, taught about speech, its tendency toward vitriol and the need for purity, for ongoing transformation.
When our family moved to Italy and went through the agony of language learning, our children were fluent long before me. It was the oddest thing to have a seven-year-old, four-year-old and two-year-old blabbering away and I had no control or understanding of what they said.
One Sunday morning, out of the mouth of the youngest of our three, flew an Italian bad word in Sunday school. She spoke it innocently, because words flowed from her mouth like an Italian fountain from some place inside that collected what she heard and spoke them into being. It was like a baby that mimics sounds before understanding comes.
The teacher was mad at her, chastising with undistinguishable sounds that formed the Italian language. We had never heard our daughter’s bad word before she spoke it.
“What does it mean?” I asked.
“It’s not in the dictionary,” was my husband’s perplexed response.
Her word was disconnected from her heart, yet she still remembers the awful evil feeling she had of doing something really wicked.
When God’s holiness invades our inner sanctum through Christ, we cannot continue to pitch our tents in the cesspool of habitual verbal contamination. Our fountain flows distinguished from the world, a clear spring. It’s true that we aren’t going to reach perfection and yes we need to extend grace, but we also have within us the Holy Spirit. We are set apart. Changed.
Speech peppered with dung should leave a very bad taste in our mouths.
“Nor should there be obscenity foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place,…”
Cleansed hearts pour out graced words.
“….but rather thanksgiving.” Ephesians 4:4.