I recently decided that it would be of benefit for me to take some time out of my week to learn a new language. I still reminisce about my high school years and the two years of Spanish classes I took. I remember that I thought it was fun speaking in another language. I think it might have been easier for me at that time, when I was much younger.
You have most likely heard the phrase “that’s Greek to me,” and yes, it is Greek I have now decided to tackle. I know I have my work cut out for me. I recently came across a passage in the Bible that made me stop and consider my use of language and the proper use of my native language, English.
Ephesians 5:4 Ephesians 5:4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
American King James Version×says, “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”
This passage is included in a long list of other things Christians should avoid. The one item I would like to focus on is the notion of “coarse jesting.” I believe that this point of language caught my attention as I read because of my study of the Greek language.
“Coarse jesting” is defined in Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary as: “Artfully turned discourses…words that can be easily turned to other meanings; double entendres; chaste words which, from their connection, and the manner in which they are used, convey an obscene or offensive meaning.”
I am not sure about you, but these days I find this occurring in my life. I find myself believing social media. I see many comedians and respected commentators make fun of others through the verbal path of “coarse jesting;” using words that often border on obscenities or immoral twists. I realize that if I don't stay alert, I carelessly begin to mimic their habit of “jesting” in that manner too; I feel this sudden urge to pass along what I've heard. How about you?
I think we all love humor and enjoy being around those who make us laugh. We also know that our Father wants us to live abundantly (John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version×). However, should there be limits to what we listen to and what we find ourselves passing along for the sake of humor?
Maybe you have heard some of those offensive “jesting” style stories. Some of are “coarse” or even “foul” stories that just sort of glide off the unguarded tongue.
If I stop and think of my own speech and the “yarns” I have repeated at times (often for the sake of humor), I wonder if I have caused offense to others or even to Christ. I say Christ because I have sought to call myself a Christian for some time now. What would Christ think of the type of offensive and debasing humor?
We all most likely have examples of “jesting” that tears down and discourages or that makes others the brunt of hurtful “jokes.” Some forms of “jesting” are wound up in the twisted “coarseness” of the words themselves. You might already know what type of off-color words Christ would list as offensive. In other words; if I seek to be as Christ is, shouldn’t I ask myself if Christ would repeat those types of words or stories as He spoke?
What to do…what to do?
One thing I can personally do is to expose my heart to stories that build-up and inspire. I can labor to walk away from the stories that diminish or darken “clean” humor. We can easily find stories that build up when we read of those who have overcome severe trials or severe persecutions. Many inspiring stories are filled with clean humor, too.
I just recently read the very popular book Unbroken. The main character is Louis Zamperini. The book takes us through his life and details how he amazingly survived to tell of one of the worst prisoner of war accounts to ever be written. His story was heartbreaking. It was a tale of the type that no man or woman should ever have to endure, much less survive.
I have shared his story with many people as one that has the ability to inspire. His story lifts up and shows that the human heart can learn to be forgiving of those who seek to annihilate people inside and out.
I enjoy good clean humor and the short one-liners that I like to share with others. How about this one; “Lead me not into temptation…I can find the way myself.” Or “I intend to live forever—so far, so good!”
What I hope to share with you here is that I have two languages to master—Greek, which is a work in progress, and also my native language, English, which I realize is still a work in progress too.
There is an inspired thought by the apostle Paul: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer every man.
American King James Version×). Seasoned with salt means my words should be able to enhance and build healthy relationships. I have spent more time with English, but there is still more to learn about how to “season” it properly. How about you?