Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
It so very easy when we are with other people, especially those with whom we spend a lot of time, in an effort to fit in, to talk the way they talk, i.e. use the same slang. We might also find ourselves participating in or laughing at their off-color jokes or crude talking. I remember my mom calling it “shop” talk. However, as Christians our speech should be much different than the world’s speech. Paul exhorts the younger Timothy, and us, to be an example to believers in the way we talk. Of how much more importance is it that we are examples to unbelievers?
The task before us is not easy because our tongues seem to run amuck way too often. Here’s why: And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. (James 3:6-9 ESV) James wrote earlier is his epistle that a person’s religion is worthless if he cannot bridle his tongue (James 1:26). Ouch!
Paul wrote to the Ephesians, Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4 ESV) The word Paul uses for filthiness means shamefulness or obscenity. Foolish talk means silly talk or buffoonery, i.e. words that can be turned from their real meaning and be used to convey something obscene. And crude joking means witticism in a vulgar sense or ribaldry (speech that is vulgar or indecent).
So how are we to talk? Paul continues in Ephesians 5:4 to say that instead of using inappropriate language we should use language that shows gratitude to God as an act of worship (thanksgiving). He also wrote to the Colossians concerning how they should speak with those who are outside the faith. He said, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6 ESV) Our speech should be representative of the gospel we proclaim.
To be sure our speech is indicative of what is in our hearts (Matthew 15:8). Jesus said that it is what comes out of a man that defiles him (Matthew 15:11). On the Day of Judgment people will give account of every idle word they speak (Matthew 12:36). So if our language is filthy, foolish and crude we need to take a deep look inside and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from the unrighteousness and put into habit speech that is befitting the calling by which we have been called.
Does your speech reflect the value of Christ?
Scriptures for Meditation
1 Peter 3:10