Working On Our Words

It is written:

“But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.”

Here, the Apostle teaches us some things which we as Christians need to be continually putting away from ourselves. Included in this list are “blasphemy” and “filthy language out of your mouth.”

The words of Barclay here are illuminating:

“Christians must rid themselves of slander and foul talk, and they must not lie to one another. The word for slander is blasphēmia, which the Authorized Version translates as blasphemy. Blasphēmia is insulting and slanderous speaking in general; when that insulting speech is directed against God, it becomes blasphemy. In this context, it is much more likely that what is forbidden is slanderous talk against other people. The word we have translated as foul talk is aischrologia; it could well mean obscene language. These last three forbidden things all have to do with speech. And when we turn them into positive commands instead of negative prohibitions, we find three laws for Christian speech. (1) Christian speech must be kind. All slanderous and malicious talk is forbidden. The old advice still stands which says that, before we repeat anything about anyone, we should ask three questions: ‘Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?’ The New Testament is unsparing in its condemnation of gossiping tongues which poison truth. (2) Christian speech must be pure. There can never have been a time in history when so much filthy language is used as today. And the tragedy is that many people have become so accustomed to unclean talk that they are unaware that they are using it. Christians should never forget that they will give account for every idle word they speak. (3) Christian speech must be true. The eighteenth-century man of letters Dr Samuel Johnson believed that far more falsehoods are told inadvertently than deliberately; and he believed that children should be reprimanded when they deviate in the smallest detail from the truth. It is easy to distort the truth; an alteration in the tone of voice or a meaningful look will do it; and there are silences which can be as false and misleading as any words. Christian speech must be kind and pure and honest to everyone everywhere.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters To The Philippians, Colossians, And Thessalonians, 178-179 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press)

May God help His people to letter their speech be grace and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6).

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