May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to God – our Rock and our Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 Kauf helps us trek through pointing our kids to truth when it comes to the words we use.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
“Are we just gonna play for the ‘f word’?” was the routine ask before the Saturday afternoon disc golf game this summer. Bob’s question certainly caused some hesitant reactions that quickly dissipated after realizing he was only trying to determine if we were playing for consequences or just for “fun” (which for many of us camp guys think can really be a waste of additional fun).
And I still remember my mom’s reaction when I was in grade school over my older sister’s use of a slang word, “bullshavick” which sounded to my mom way too much of an overt cuss word – not to mention the context and tone she used it in.
As parents, friends and followers of Christ, how do we determine if our words are appropriate and God honoring? As with any area of our life, let’s filter that question through our moral compass and see what His word tells us.
1) Is cursing sinful? Scripture gives us a pretty clear answer when it comes to overt words. James 3:10 says, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” And 1 Peter 3:10 declares, “For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” The “What Does the Bible Say about Swearing and Cursing” article is a great discussion for you and your family.
2) Are my words sinful? Time to drill down a little deeper past the surface of the audible language. A reminder that man tends to look at the external, but God judges the heart – seems like we ought to strive to do the same. To determine if certain words are appropriate, let’s evaluate with three questions:
- What was the intent? Imagine two different things a child might say upon seeing someone else fall down… though there aren’t any profane words in either of these phrases, one is obviously inappropriate: “Are you hurt?” vs “I hope you are hurt!” The second is obvious but the first one if said with a lack of sincerity, eye contact or with a sneering tone, would also reveal an uncaring, sinful heart.
- What was the impact? Sometimes our impact is different than our intent. Did what I say hurt or offend someone else? I can’t count how many times my wife has suggested that I go and follow up with someone that appeared to react negatively to something I had innocently said.
- What’s the context of the word or phrase? To avoid acting like the “church lady” from SNL or a modern-day Pharisee, let’s be sure we as parents teach that the context during which certain words are used is a part of determining if appropriate… e.g. using anatomically correct terms for the body during an educational conversation (Focus on the Family) and of course that hell is a biblical concept and location for those separated from God in the afterlife.
3) How can I avoid and/or deal with sinful words?
- Aim to speak words that bless, buildup, encourage, extend grace, glorify God, and teach His Truth!
- When they don’t: humbly ask God and that person(s), “Will you forgive me for…”. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
May God be honored and represented well as He directs us (adults, students and children) in Ephesians 5:1,2, & 4 (NAS), “there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting…”, “as beloved children… walk in love…”.