Have you felt a sense of shock or concern about the level of swearing you hear in public these days? I’m sure I didn’t hear so much when I was a lad – and I’m only in my early 40’s! I don’t want to sound like a moralising grumpy old man but it is a real concern. The Bible teaches that our speech is a key measure of character. Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Individual characters make up a community. Our speech is an indicator of the health of our society.
Christians are challenged to have the very highest standards in speech. Eloquence and elocution are not really in mind here. The real concerns are for truthfulness, well intentioned and well timed words. The Proverbs tells us, ‘A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.’
The Apostle James instructed us to exercise a measure of self-control in speech and to keep a tight rein on our tongues. The Apostle Paul instructed Christians at Ephesus: Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body… Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We shouldn’t be afraid of having fun and creativity with words! There are examples of humour and word-play throughout the Bible. Some are only seen in the original languages in which they were written! As well as the spiritual treasure in the Bible there are literary treasures too!
However, there is a very serious side too. Words are important to God, not merely as a creative interest but because words are at the very centre of whom God is and what He does! The Bible is a written record of God communicating with humanity. God has something to say to us!
It’s really clear that words are very important to God because of one of the titles for the Son of God, is the Word. The eternal Son of God left Heaven, taking on humanity, living amongst us, as one of us, to give his life for us. His life was a rescue mission and His life was God’s supreme communication with us! In the Gospel accounts, God the Father spoke about the Son, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!”
Well intentioned words aren’t always pleasant. Jesus reveals that our greatest need is peace with God. Truth hurts in order to heal! God communicates the way that human beings are put right with Himself. Amazingly it’s a gift – not what you’d expect and amazingly it’s received through faith in Jesus Christ – seems too easy! God has taken care to communicate clearly and accurately through His Son this important message. Words are important. Faith is taking God at His word.