What You Say
Christians are “called out” of the world (1 Pet. 2:9). That doesn’t mean we never have associations or dealings with other people, for then we would have to “go out of the world” (1 Cor. 5:10). Rather, we shine our lights in the dark places so that people can see the way to God, in Whom there is no darkness at all. In so doing, those in the world also see the difference in God’s people, in whom there ought to be no worldliness at all.
This distinction should be noticeable in several areas of our lives: from the priorities we set to the decisions we make to the type of clothes we wear to the kinds of places we won’t go. But if we’re not careful, we allow our boundaries of separation to be determined more by what is socially acceptable or politically correct than what is right in the sight of God. Especially is this the case with the language we choose to use.
The reason our words are so important in defining who we are and Who we represent is because we live in an age of constant communication. We’re always talking. Whether it’s on the phone, emailing, texting, tweeting, or even, perish the thought, face to face! There’s hardly ever a time when we’re not saying something. So we must be all the more diligent to say our words carefully, whether they come out of our mouths or off the tips of our fingers. Either way, they proceed from the heart.
A common reminder is “It’s not just what you said; it’s how you said it.” Well in today’s world, we need to be careful what we say no matter how we say it.
Just because you abbreviate something doesn’t mean you’ve changed its meaning. We’ve gone from euphemistic ways of saying, “Oh my God!” to clever ways of shortening it: OMG! But it’s still using the name of the Lord in a flippant, irreverent manner. The principle behind the third commandment given to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 20:7) is just as true among spiritual Israel today. If God’s own people don’t even respect His name, why should the world show any regard to His word?
Just because you don’t speak it out loud doesn’t mean it’s not heard. Some things are easier said behind a computer screen or from a keypad. That doesn’t mean they should always be said. We wouldn’t retell a joke with questionable humor in a circle of people but we’ll hit the forward button when it comes to our Inbox. We wouldn’t flirt in public or say suggestive things to someone who is married but we’ll send them inappropriate text messages because we think no one else is listening. If the “eyes of the Lord are in every place” (Prov. 15:3), doesn’t that suggest the same thing about His ears? Jesus assured us that we would be held accountable for “every careless word” (Matt. 12:36). Perhaps we should take better care of what we’re communicating, no matter how we’re saying it.
Just because you find it funny doesn’t mean the Lord is laughing. We love to be entertained. But when we allow society to set the standard for what is acceptable, it won’t be long until we start saying what we see. Paul set the bar extremely high when He wrote by inspiration, “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth” (Eph. 4:29). The word unwholesome is literally rotten and means “having no value.” What value or wholesome quality is found in such graphic phrases like, “That sucks”? They may get a laugh, but Whose approval is most important? And who in the world is being shown the value of our vocation?
On the night of Jesus’ trials, Peter, afraid that he too might be arrested, denied any association with Him and His followers. Some of the bystanders approached Peter and said, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away” (Matt. 26:73). They most likely were referring to his Galilean accent, but the application is unescapable. Would people who don’t know you assume that you walk with Jesus just by the way you talk? If not, then your speech betrays you.
Watch your language. No matter how you say it.