Paul wrote to Ephesians, “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.” Can you imagine what he would have to say about today’s language?
A week ago, I found myself with my kids in a grocery store. As we sorted through the hundreds of cereal options – attempting to agree on one – two teenagers turned down our aisle. It wasn’t a big deal … that is, until they began to talk. “Bleep” this and “bleep that.” I was convinced it was a contest to see who could curse the most in the short period of time. At the risk of sounding old, I don’t remember foul language or “unwholesome talk” being so prevalent when I was growing up. When did it become socially acceptable to curse so freely? Seems like today’s viewpoints, like that of actor Paeter Capaldi, have become the norm: “There is no such thing as too much swearing. Swearing is just a piece of linguistic mechanics. The words in-between are the clever ones.”
So, as these two young men passed by me and my children, what did I do? Sadly, nothing. I wish I could say I boldly stepped in front of them, kindly asked them to stop swearing and maybe even presented the Gospel. But, none of that happened. I did my best to distract my kids, agree to the sugary cereal they were asking for and zip out of the aisle.
I pray my failed exercise is encouragement for you to attempt success. Might we all have a chance to share with those in our community how to speak wholesomely … without judgement or condemnation.