Yesterday we talked about a few things that are present in Godly speech. Let's dig a little closer into what bad speech is and how we can avoid it.
#1 - Lying (...and covering it up)
Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,
Is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, “I was only joking!”
Everybody knows - THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS - and sometimes the King James English leads us to believe that God's just not ok with cases of perjury. Almost like we have to break an oath on a Bible to be really lying. The truth is that if your motives are deceitful, if you're telling anything other than what accurately happened, you're bearing false witness.
This is really hard, I know. Right now I'm watching everything I say to try to remove all exaggeration from my speech. This means if there's a pile up on the side of the road and I think there are three cars but I say "4 or 5" to make a better story, I'm in sin. If I'm mad at someone for frequently being a few minutes behind and I say, "You're always late" when in truth they have been on time twice, I'm in sin.
#2 - Gossip (...but arguing that it's the truth)
A perverse man sows strife,
And a whisperer separates the best of friends.
Every time that I can remember catching someone gossipping their answer to me is, "but it's true!" I believe gossip is a separate sin than lying. Sometimes they go together, especially lying by exaggeration, but more often than not there's a grain of truth to gossip. Gossip is talking negatively about someone when they are not there. Gossip is telling secrets that shouldn't be told (Proverbs 11:13).
#3 - Crude language (...but not as bad as it could be)
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking,
which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Crudeness is a symbol of coolness because coolness has become equal to a relaxed view of God's standard. People who use crude language forget that God is present everywhere. If they were aware of His presence their speech would become a lot cleaner. Proverbs says, "The tongue of the righteous is choice silver." And I think it's because the righteous know God.
David was aware of God's presence and His attitude was, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."
When your thumb catches the door do you need profanity to come out of your mouth? Or are you doing it because it feels good to say? And while you're arguing about which words are worse than other words, which words are ok and which are not, you're letting the worldly culture decide what God likes and what He doesn't.
Foul language is like a spot on a formerly spotless lamb. You can't be spotless if you have a spot, no matter how faded or greyed-out the spot is. (Don't worry, God is good at getting out stains)
Just a thought, the verse above gives a substitute for fowl language. Is it possible to give sincere thanks when sudden pain or sadness occurs?
So in closing, I'd like to address a likely response. To those saying I'm dwelling too much on the letter of the law instead of the spirit, I say don't throw out the law because it's not convenient or inspiring. To those saying that we're under grace instead of the law, a new covenant instead of the old, I say that the standard increased the moment Jesus said it did. It's now not only the actions of our hands and lips, but the condition of our heart that matters. I love how the English Standard Version translates Matthew 5:19.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever relaxes the commandments. Are you like me, with a tendency to justify your sin? Remember that God calls you to be holy, just like He is holy.