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The Power of Words, Part 1

24 Jan

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I don’t know if this ever happened to any of you, but it did me. I remember my parents telling me, that if I didn’t quit saying particular things, usually mean things, then they were going to wash my mouth out with soap. I don’t remember it ever happening, but it wasn’t because I was so good. My parents were trying to teach me a lesson. The lesson being, that words are very important. Jesus said that what comes out of the mouth, comes from the heart. I was thinking about this last night. I have said some very terrible things in my life. I am very ashamed of it. By the grace of God, I think I am learning.

The words that we speak are often not thought about before we say them, or, they are considered only after they are spoken. The damage can already have been done. I remember being told that sticks and stones could break my bones, but words could never hurt me. I even said it to my own kids. But words can hurt. Words can hurt very, very much. Paul talks about this in Ephesians 4:29. “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.” The Greek word (sapros) is used in only one other context in the New Testament, in two places in Matthew and Luke where Jesus says, “It is not the good tree that bears bad fruit “(Luke 6:43; Matthew 7:17.; Matthew 12:33). The term for “bad” fruit here is the same word for evil, or unwholesome, or corrupt in Ephesians 4:29. This kind of rotten language must be taken off like an old garment. It is part of the old self of verse 22 that needs to be stripped away when a person becomes a Christian. The garment of a rotten mouth must be taken off and thrown into the fire, just like the Ephesians burned their old books on magic in Acts 19:19. I have 4 things in mind about this passage today.

 

1. Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain

First would be 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!” just because we are mad, or surprised, or amazed. No one with a good marriage would stomp on his wedding ring to express anger. It stands for something precious and pure. And so does the name of God and Jesus Christ.

2. Trivializing Terrible Realities

The second kind of language that Paul would call rotten would be language that trivializes terrible realities—like hell and damnation. What’s wrong with saying, “What the hell!” or “Hell, no!” or “Go to hell!” or “Damn it!” or “Damn right!”?

Among other things, these expressions trivialize things of terrible seriousness. It’s simply a contradiction to believe in the horrible reality of hell, and use the word like a punctuation mark for an emphasis when talking about anything. The same is true of damnation.

3. Referencing Sex and the Body in Vulgar Ways

The third kind of language I think Paul would include in his command is, not to let any rotten talk come out of your mouth in vulgar references to sex, and the human body. With this kind of language people take good things that God has made, and use them like mud, to smear on whatever they get upset about. The whole assumption behind the use of vulgar four-letter words is that they communicate scorn, or disdain, or hate. How does this happen?

How, for example, does the act of sexual relations, created by God as something good, how does it get translated into a four letter word and carry the meaning of hate and scorn? The answer is easy: first you get God out of your mind. That’s fundamental to all vulgarity. Then you get the sanctity of His creation out of your mind. And then, in your mind, you replace the tenderness of real love with the force of rape, and you’ve got yourself a four letter word which does verbally the same thing that rape does physically. It expresses selfish, uncaring abusiveness.

4. Speaking in Mean-Spirited Ways

The final kind of language I think Paul would call rotten is mean-spirited language—like, “Shut up!” , or “I Hate You”. The words themselves are untarnished. But the usage is vicious and without love.

We’ll look at the subject again tomorrow. But, think about this. And let’s think about the words that we speak.

 

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 24, 2014 in A LA CARTE, Christianity

 

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9 responses to “The Power of Words, Part 1

  1. Prudence

    January 24, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Great post! Sometimes we can be very flippant about the words we speak, only realizing the ramifications later. We forget there is power in the words we speak, and the damage they can do to others. Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (NKJV). If our words are acceptable in the SIGHT of God, then they do have substance. Anyway, that’s my two cents! Looking forward to Part 2!

    Shalom 🙂

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    • Levi Thetford

      January 24, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Thank you for your 2 cents worth, they’re priceless. Words are very important part of our lives that govern much of it. Thank you for sharing. Have a great day.

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  2. katebortell

    January 24, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Well this certainly gives me something to ponder. And something to work on. Thanks for the eye opener Levi!

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    • Levi Thetford

      January 24, 2014 at 7:28 am

      Good morning Kate. This is an eye opener, or reminder to us all indeed. Have a great day. Thanks for sharing.

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      • katebortell

        January 24, 2014 at 8:17 am

        Thanks Levi. It helps to keep life in perspective!! Blessings! Kate

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  3. A Servant

    January 24, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I have observed, even in church, improper use of God’s name. Innocently, yes but improper just the same.
    I had the privilege to hear a Supreme Court Justice speak at an engagement one time. He said “words have meaning” which has stuck with me and goes along with your post.
    Very we’ll done!
    A Servant

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    • Levi Thetford

      January 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      You are absolutely correct. Words are used so flippantly. The judge was right. And the Ultimate Judge has told us how to think about them. I speak on this in part 3, Sunday. Maybe, why we say what we say. I sure appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Have a great evening. I will read your blog tomorrow. I have been working Master Gardener today at the Home & Garden show.

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  4. sparrowkindalove

    January 28, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Loved this post. It’s something that is SO important and so many times over looked. What an amazing thing it is to replace “negative talk” with good. To build people up and show kindness, even when it is undeserved, can speak volumes about our relationship with Christ. Thanks for posting on something that is so important! Great read!

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    • Levi Thetford

      January 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Thank you for the great comment and so true. Words are very meaningful and powerful. Our relationship with Him should transform all of us.

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