Sunday, 10 August 2008 00:00

Pierces of Swords: Vulgar Speech

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

  1. There is a moral quality to every word that comes out of your mouth.
    "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth" (v.29). The RSV translates it, "Let no evil talk come out of your mouths." The NIV and NASB say "unwholesome talk." The KJV puts it, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth."

    The Greek is in the singular as in "Let not one rotten word come out of your mouth." This Greek word for "corrupt" or "rotten" is the word sapros and is used in only one other time in the NT, namely, the places in Matthew and Luke where Jesus says, "It is not the good tree that bears bad fruit" (Luke 6:43; Matthew 7:17; and Matthew 12:33). The image conveys words full of rottenness and decay, speech that is utterly spoiled. "It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man" (Matthew 15:11). What you say has a moral quality to it.

  2. There is a rotten moral quality to particular kinds of speech.
    1. Taking the name of the Lord in vain.
      Language that takes the name of the Lord in vain. It is a great contradiction of who we are as Christians if we say, "God!" or "My God!" or "God Almighty!" or "Christ!" or "Jesus!" because we are angry, surprised, or amazed.
    2. Trivializing terrible realities.
      Using the words "hell" or "damn" or "holy" trivialize very real, eternal truths.
    3. Talking of sex and the body in vulgar ways.
      Four letter sexual words denigrate God and the sanctity of His creation. Vulgar sexual words replace the tenderness of married love with the force of rape. Vulgarity verbally expresses the same hate and contempt of rape physically.
    4. Turning against others in mean-spirit ways.
      Including the use of racial slurs, crude comments about body shapes, etc....
  3. There can be some quality control for the words you speak.
    Just as every industry has some quality control experts, what you say needs control.
    1. Know when you are disconnected from your primary source—if your heart is disconnected from God, you will find your words becoming rotten as the days go by. One of the best ways to stay connected is regular worship with His people.
    2. Weigh carefully the distribution and supply of your words—just look at the stacks and stacks of summer plums. Those on the bottom get spoiled because there were too many of them. In similar manner, too many words bring about rottenness. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11).
    3. Guard closely the damage caused by outside stimuli—those things you fill your mind with eventually become those things you say (i.e. music, books, etc.).

The text is much more than just a command to avoid dirty words. The larger question is: Am I building the faith of others by what I say? Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I frightened and anxious and angry about my life, or am I filled and overflowing with hope that the Spirit of God will keep me safe for the day of redemption and wish to help others?

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