Looking over my past writings I realized I write a lot about communication. I think it is because it is such an important subject. God has quite a bit to say about our words, and He makes no bones about warning us repeatedly to watch our tongues. We often think our opinions are very important and should be freely expressed. Just read the comment section of most Internet articles and you see the wide range of opinions on any given subject. Most of it is negative.
We need to ask God to help us overcome our reactions so we don’t simply spew out whatever comes to mind when we are emotionally engaged.
What does God say about how we use our words? Acceptable language appears to be one of the most important parts of our Christianity. It's so important that we are warned we will have to give account for our words: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:37, English Standard Version throughout). This is very serious! “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36).
We are to watch our words both when we speak to others and to God. What we say should be uplifting, sound and encouraging: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalms 19:14).
Make your words worthwhile
Although not swearing and using God’s name in vain are important things we must do, there’s more to it than that. When we yell, discourage, malign and hurt others, we dishonor God. “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8).
Jesus instructed: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:11).
We are to speak with patience. Many of us have a hard time doing that, and we especially want to let people know when we're angry. It’s human nature to want to be right or in the know. We may put others down to make ourselves feel better, or it can just be because we dislike someone. We can’t encourage and be a force for good in people's lives when we do that. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
Minding what we say is so important that our very Christianity is challenged. Look at what it says in James about ignoring it: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless” (James 1:26). Just two chapters later we are told: “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).
Is this a contradiction? It is not. It means that we need to ask God to help us overcome our reactions so we don’t simply spew out whatever comes to mind when we are emotionally engaged. The apostle John tells us we must confess our sins—and that includes the sin of incorrect language (1 John 1:9). The way we speak is a reflection of who we are as God’s people. We are to be representatives of who God is. We can just as easily use words that uplift others and draw people to God. We are to be God’s ambassadors to the world. How we approach others is very important! “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27).
I encourage you to do a quick Internet search on “biblical verses on words.” You may be surprised how many scriptures there are on the subject. It’s an important topic to God, and it should be to us as well.
It is very interesting how profane language, or the lack of it, affects others. I spent many years working in offices. Others often used profane language, but if they noticed I was nearby, they apologized. I never told anyone not to swear, nor did I make a point of the fact that I did not. The fact that I didn’t swear was obvious to them, and they respected that about me. My point is that if merely not doing something reflects positively on others, how much more effective are our Christian words and actions when we actively strive to do good in what we do and what we say?