Ephesians 4:29-30: Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Colossians 4:6: Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
As I’m drinking my coffee this morning and reading Ephesians 4, this verse really jumps out at me. I have an uncle who joined the Navy during WWII. He is the stereotypical sailor, and it is his image that comes to my mind whenever I hear the phrase “curses like a sailor”. Peppering his speech with curse words is so normal to him that he isn’t even aware that he does it. I think most people read Ephesians 4:29-30 with my uncle in mind and therefore think it doesn’t apply to those of us with a less seasoned vocabulary. Actually, the Greek words Paul uses here would paint a picture of something putrid, decaying, and rotten. I translate that to say “don’t be so putrid and rotten in your thoughts that your words naturally come out that way.” We have all heard, and probably most of us said, the children’s rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Eric Idle said “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will make me go in a corner and cry by myself for hours.” Sadly, I can identify more with the Eric Idle version that with the actual nursery rhyme. Herb Warren said, “sticks and stones may break the bones but leave the spirit whole, but simple words can break the heart or silence crush the soul.” My own version would be “Sticks and stones may break my bones but they will heal and be strong. Words will be forever in my head and always tell me I am wrong.” When do we use foul and dirty language? Unkind comments are foul and hurt. Gossip can destroy. Tearing someone down to build yourself up uses dirty language that contaminates everyone involved. Making comments with the intent to cause hurt is murderous. Sometimes its not the words themselves that cause the brokenness but the tone that breaks the heart. Sometimes having someone stand silently while foul comments are being made is what crushes the soul. I have a T-shirt with the words “I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean for it to be out loud.” The shirt is meant to be funny but the reality is not. Luke 6:45 tells me that when putrid, decaying, rotten thoughts are in my head, they come out of my mouth. Lord, I want to always speak with love, to build up rather than tear down, to add support rather than crush. I want my language to be seasoned with the salt of Colossians 4:6. May my new rhyme be “sticks and stones may break my bones but they will heal and be strong. May my words always be filled with love and create a joyful song.”