“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT
When a grandchild gives instruction, I listen.
Our youngest grandchild celebrated his second birthday this year. Though he was slow beginning to talk, he has caught up nicely. Over the last few weeks, he has begun talking in sentences-which has made his grandparents’ job a little more difficult as we try to understand what he’s saying. From the beginning, we taught him not to say “shut up.” “Hush” was a better word choice in our opinion.
Enter our mouthy Chihuahua who needs to be told that numerous times each day. As I issued those instructions one day, my grandson politely said, “No, you don’t say dat word.”
“What should I say,” I responded.
“You say, ‘Be quiet,'” he said.
Where he learns some of the things he says, we’re not quite sure. They don’t come from us, his mother, or any television show he is watching. Saying comical things just seems to be a way of life for him. Then again, there are some things he picks up from media sources that we wish he wouldn’t.
One translation uses the word unwholesome instead of foul or abusive. At first glance, I might associate this with the third commandment: Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. (Exodus 20:7 NLT) In other words, don’t cuss. But the instruction goes much farther than four-letter words, so avoiding cursing won’t let me off the hook. And while I think more about bad actions grieving God’s Spirit, unwholesome language will do the trick also.
Speaking words that reflect bitterness toward another person is unwholesome. Gossiping will accomplish the same thing, whether what I say is true or not. Some things are just better left unsaid. Processing anger in unwholesome ways is also a part of the mix. As is just having a bad attitude and letting my words reflect it so everyone else can see it plainly as well.
Asking whether what I’m about to say is necessary, true, and uplifting is a good place to start, but I can’t stop there. Examining the root source my words are arising from and considering the words I’m acting out in pictures are important too. If I don’t get to the source, I’ll keep saying “dat word.”
What are your words saying about you to others?
Prayer: Father, may the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight.
Martin Wiles Hodges, South Carolina, USA