Do you believe words matter?
When is the last time you grabbed a dictionary and thought, “There are 200,000 words in here. I need to find 5 new ones to use that would strengthen my vocabulary and add value to others?”
It is amazing how words come into our language and usage, we use them for awhile, and then they go away. Think of how commercials, sports, entertainment, movies, and pop culture create words like “Whazzzup?” “Is that your final answer?” “Who’s your daddy?” (I know I dated myself with those three). It is good that phrases come and go, because they often add spice and humor to our conversation, but also have a shelf life.
Yet there are also words and phrases that come and do not go away. Words that we would consider gross, impolite, even obscene. Words that stick in our thoughts, jokes, and conversational groups that are dirty and disgusting, and are worse than sticks and stones.
Read James 3:1-12. How tamed is your tongue?
Did you ever wonder why some words are considered poor selections and why we should avoid them? As followers and imitators of Jesus, the answer is simple. They destroy our testimony. Christians are people bent on becoming more Christ-like as they read and obey the teaching of Scripture and depend on the power of the Spirit to enable them to walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6). As representatives of Jesus, using vulgar or obscene words drags His name into a place where it does not belong and hurts people.
Do you have some pet words or phrases that you know are not a good witness and dirty up your vocabulary? Do you ever use God’s name in vain? If off-color language is a problem for you, seek God’s help to get rid of it. The Holy Spirit has the power to guide you toward better selections of the words you allow to come out of your mouth.
Ask some friends to help you monitor your word choices. How can they help you be accountable to eliminate words that are better left out of usage? It took over a year, but I helped a student learn to change their tendency to cut themselves down with their own words after growing up in a home where their father modeled that behavior.
My mentor John Maxwell talks about giving people the Triple-A treatment. Everyone feels better and acts better when you give them attention, affirmation, and appreciation. The next time you meet someone, start by giving them your undivided attention for the first thirty seconds. Affirm and show them your appreciation in some way (maybe with words?). Point out a strength, characteristic, or accomplishment that you see in them.
Ephesians 4:29-30 says, “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.” Make that your new word goal. Memorize those verses. Ask God to help you live that way. Decide to change your vocabulary choices. Live communally. You cannot give a good witness by using bad words.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz