Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You Are What You Speak

So what is the deal with politicians and obscenity? The latest media buzz concerns vice-president Joseph Biden's uncensored comments made after his introduction of the president. He had just finished introducing the president at yesterday's health care reform signing ceremony, and as the president stepped up to the podium Biden leaned over and said to him, "This is a big (expletive) deal." The microphones picked up every word of his comments. Sadly, the White House secretary, Rober Gibbs, tweeted about the comment in an affirmitive way by writing, "And yes Mr. Vice President, you're right..."

Why does such obscenity seem necessary to politicians or to anyone? I know when I was a teen I thought it was cool (that term may date me, but oh well) to swear and use obscenities. I thought it made me sound tough. However, my 'toughness' quickly morphed into meekness when I accidently slipped up and used Biden's expletive to my mom. I turned from a tough, hot-shot teenager into a groveling child begging for mercy and forgiveness. I don't actually remember what mom did, but I do remember the immediate look of shock and fury on her face.

Based on my own experience, I have an idea of why teens may use obscene language, but I can't explain it for adults. Are these adults still trying to sound 'tough' and 'cool'? That seems a little immature to me. Maybe it's merely for emphasis sake. But do they really have such a poor grasp of the english language that they need to resort to obscenity for such purposes? Perhaps that's true in some cases, but probably not the majority. So why does someone feel it necessary to use such foul and obscene language? Maybe it reveals the obscenity of the heart.

Jesus said, "the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’" Matthew 15:18 (NIV)

Scripture is full of passages warning us to guard our lips and tongue. Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many sin is not absent..." James tells us to keep a tight rein on our tongue. Proverbs 13:3 states, "He who guards his lips guards his life." We are called to guard our tongue, but can we? James 3:8 declares, "no man can tame the tongue."

The tongue can't be tamed apart from a changed heart. Remember, out of the mouth come the things from the heart. We can only tame the tongue when our hearts have been changed, and only Christ can change our hearts.

Words are powerful and revealing. They can bring healing or pain, encouragement or despair, joy or sorrow. I believe they can also reveal a person's inner character as Jesus claimed. We may be able to put on a show for a time, but eventually our words will reveal who we truly are (often at a very inopportune moment). Trust in Christ to change your heart and then you can concentrate on changing your speech.

David wrote in Psalm 141:3, "
Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." That's a powerful prayer for every believer.

What's your speech like? I struggled for a while cleaning up my mouth after I turned back the LORD. It was possible though through a changed heart and by filling my heart and mind with speech that honors God. I don't know where you are in this area of speech, but it is a vital part of a believer's spiritual growth. As believers, may our speech reflect the glory and goodness of Jesus Christ our Savior to all who hear us.

"LORD, I know that my speech at times brings harm and doesn't honor You. Forgive me LORD for such dishonoring speech. Guard my mouth and lips LORD so that I would speak only that which is good, honoring, and edifying to You and others. May my speech reflect the glorious nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's in His name I pray, Amen."

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