The psalmist writes,
- “Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes, and I shall observe it to the end” (Psalm 119:33 – NASB)
And so we greet the new day with such a plea to our Father in heaven, “teach me . . . the way of Thy statutes . . . “teach me” from Thy Word, that we may “observe” them today and every day and “to the end.”
From his letter to the churches in Asia Minor the apostle Paul writes,
- “and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4 – NASB)
Does the “talk” of those around you grate on you? Surely we live in a day when either in personal conversations, on a TV program, in a movie, or on a radio program, bad language abounds. Sometimes it’s a little, sometimes it’s a lot! You, personally, might even have come to the point where you receive different words in different ways, determining in this day of bad language that some words are not as bad as others, more tolerable maybe, while others are not so tolerable. You know what I mean, those words that cause you to wince when you hear them. Unholy speech is evidence of unregenerated hearts, of people who are not led according to the “statutes” of God, according to His Word.
Paul told the believers he was writing to that their speech was to be different. It was not to have a likeness to that of the non-believers around them. He said, “there must be no . . .”
- “filthiness” – This Greek word refers to “general obscenity, or that which is disgraceful” (note: related to 5:12).
- “silly talk” – The Greek here is one word. It means, “foolish talking; It refers to that which characterizes someone who is intellectually deficient. It is low-class, obscene, gutter-talk; made up of senseless, profitless words with filthy connotations.”
- “coarse jesting” – Again, one Greek word that means, “able to turn easily.” As someone has expounded upon this word, “Probably someone who is able to take what is said and turn it into something dirty.”
These are not to characterize the speech of a disciple of Christ! It is for us to remember that we have been called to holiness (I Peter 1:16) and that this calling, in part, has to do with our speech, which is a very big part of our conduct in this world.
I was a big-time manager for a very large food company when Christ saved me, having a considerable amount of people under my authority. I remember well how that after I came to know Christ, He changed my vocabulary. And to those who worked for me it was very noticeable. They started to talk about me, at first behind my back and then right to my face. They eventually asked, “Did you get religion?” Now it is important to know that I worked with these people for years and that they were very well acquainted with me and my ways. So the change that God made could not go unnoticed. I just no longer found any sense in the words I had been speaking for years, the obscenities, the foolish talk, the hard words that were lacking in conveying any type of witness for the One who I professed as Lord. “Intellectually deficient” words that I had so often used as I walked according to the course of this world (Ephesians 2:1-3). From that noticeable change came a wonderful platform from which I witnessed to many, many people. Unholy speech gave place to holy speech which gave place to witnessing for Christ! It was awesome!
Holy speech definitely separates us out from the masses, from non-believers. And when people who use unholy speech are around you they will note the difference. If they ask . . . tell them about Jesus! Tell them that it is God’s Word that guides what comes out of your mouth! Tell them Christ has changed your heart and subsequently, your words! Let your speech be laced with the “giving of thanks” flowing from a new heart that has a new vocabulary. Besides . . . . . . . we don’t want to convey to the people around us that we are “intellectually deficient,” do we? Words can do that!
Have a good day brethren . . . and as you walk shun unholy speech and witness with words that edify and bless and glorify God.
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