The words that we choose to express ourselves are imperative. According to Matthew 12:32-37, we will give an account to God for every idle word that we speak. Let us make sure that we understand what kinds of words that God finds unacceptable.
Respect and Reverence for God
God is the creator of all. We exist solely because God decided to allow it. God is our Lord. Therefore, we ought to speak of Him respectfully. How would you speak and act before a world leader? Doesn’t God deserve even more respect than we give the leaders of a country?
In Matthew 6:9, Jesus gives his disciples a model prayer. He begins with “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Hallowed means to hold something as holy, sacred or revered. Under the Old Law, God told the Israelites not to take his name in vain (Deut 5:11). Taking God’s name in vain is to treat it as useless, a part of idle speech, or to ruin the respect of his name. The Hebrew word for vain comes from a word that means to rush over something or to be careless with it. In Leviticus 19:12, there is a warning not to profane the name of the Lord. To profane something is to pollute or defile it. Using God’s name as a cuss word is one way we can profane His name. A more subtle way we can profane God is by claiming to be a follower of God, but living in wickedness. The Israelites were guilty of this according to God in Ezekiel 36:22-23.
Cursing is making light of something, bringing it into contempt, or giving it no respect. Evil or wicked talk is also referred to as cursing. Paul tells us in Romans 3:14 that those under sin have mouths full of cursing.
While people in the world look lightly on cursing, God does not. Under the Old Law, cursing one’s mother or father was punishable by death (Mk 7:10). Solomon warned about the hazard of cursing the king or a rich man (Eccl 10:20). Jesus never cursed. In fact, when Peter was trying to “prove” that he was not a follower of Jesus, he began to curse (Matt 26:73-74). Before cursing, Peter’s speech betrayed him. He wasn’t using curse words like those around him.
When we stub our toe and mutter words to the effect of condemning the object we hit to eternal punishment, we are cursing. We are treating a very serious matter lightly. Hell is a place of punishment for the wicked. As Christians, we spend our lives trying to keep ourselves and others out of Hell. Do we then causally condemn a chair to Hell because we foolishly struck our foot against it?
In 1 Timothy 1:9, Paul gives a list of those who are wicked. Included in that list is the profane. As we mentioned before, the definition of the word profane is to pollute or to wound. Christians ought not to speak like this. Paul defines in Ephesians 5:1-7 three categories of talking that is inappropriate for Christians:
- Filthy talk — Talk that is obscene or shameful.
- Foolish talk — Talk that is absurd, stupid, or dull.
- Coarse jesting – Vulgar jokes.
There is a broad category of words that the world views as a polite way to curse. They are referred to as euphemism. Some call it slang. A euphemism is substituting other words to make something sound better than it really is. For example, calling a garbage man a sanitation engineer is a euphemism. Now, a sanitation engineer sounds pretty good, but they do the same job as a garbage man. Euphemistic cursing is so common that most people use these words without realizing what they are really saying. Here are some examples:
Taking God’s Name in Vain:
Gosh, Golly, Goodness: Euphemisms for God
Gee, Gee-whiz: Euphemisms for Jesus
Darn: Euphemism for damn
Heck: Euphemism for hell
Dog gone it or Dag nab it: Euphemism for God damn it
Freaking or F-ing: Euphemisms for the F*** word.
SOB: Acronym for son of a B**** word
This list is by no means complete but I am sure you understand the message. In fact, the use of euphemistic curse words is so common, I strongly urge you to look up every interjection you use before opening your mouth. See if the use of the word is something you will be willing to give an account of before the Lord on the Judgment Day.
Bridling the Tongue
A mature Christian has control over his tongue (Jam 1:26). However, it is not something that comes easily or quickly. In fact, it is probably the hardest task that a Christian must face (Jam 3:3-12). Let us each resolve to clean up our speech and season it properly, so we can appropriately speak to the world and not speak as the world (Col 4:6).