It is disappointing to hear the incessant barrage of irresponsible speech. Even the people of the church have forgotten what the principles of Godly speech are. The Bible is filled with references to the qualities of speech reflective of what life in Jesus Christ means. However, language coming from the lips of professing Christians are many times patterned after the Godless culture in which we live today. The exhortation is that we pay more attention to the Word of God that describes the types of speech God expects from His people. It is imperative to know that it is sanctified speech glorifies God.
Proverbs 15 reveals a basic speech expectation. For example, verse 1 states, “A soft answer turns away wrath. But, grievous words stir up anger.”
Quite often people unconsciously utter inflaming statements shot from the hip or spoken loosely off the cuff. It may due to the stress they are under, or the results of heightened emotions, or the effects of bad health. Spouses and family members are often guilty of igniting such scenes. All too often people at church carp and criticize, and their remarks to others sting like pellets fired from a shotgun. We can expect that at various times, whether at work or attending communities, someone may get primed to say something that is annoying, arrogant, or offensive.
In such circumstances, it is not so much how we feel like responding, but, rather, what God expects from us with our speech response. It involves the “soft answer.” See this clearly: it does not say not to answer, but how to answer. Hurtful speech may inflame one’s emotion, but the Lord specifies that the best response is a soft answer measured in quality and tone.
In other words, while the soft answer may be a direct answer, it is not an acerbically coded answer fraught with biting meaning. A soft answer is an honest answer. A soft answer is not an answer covered with innuendo.
A soft answer is a compassionate, wise response that successfully heads off at the pass any reason for acerbating the potential for broken fellowship. So, watch your language.
Proverbs 15:3 reveals another basic speech expectation for God’s people. It states, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life.” The term “wholesome” refers to “health.” This consideration leads us to understand that the Lord expects of us speech that promotes the overall emotion, mental, and spiritual health of others.
This calls attention to not carelessly calling others hurtful names. We should not direct critical remarks toward others. That is why wholesome speech ought to show the qualities of a “tree of life.” Our speech should produce positive fruit that not only tastes good in our own mouths, but also in the mouths of others. So, watch your language.
Another verse in Proverbs 15 clarifies the importance of what is regarded as pure words: “But the word of the pure are pleasant words.” A necessary corollary to the utterance of pure words involves a teaching point from the words of Christ, who said, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart.” This is to say that that which should capture our attention is the understanding that those things which verbally roll across or tongues and out by way of our lips are the results of what is in our heart.
So, what do the people of the church actually reveal at times about themselves as they speak? One example involves the use of profanity. Profane speech by church people surely indicates a lack of obedience in relationship to the Lordship of Christ. Apostle James indicates that one is clearly not right with the Lord if cursing is a part of our speech repertoire. This is not judging, but a matter of what one reveals about themselves. After all, the Lord said, “By your words you shall be condemned.“
The point is that we should watch our language over against what the Word of God tells us. The Christian’s prime responsibility is to bring honor and glory to God. But, if our speech is characteristically ungodly, we only bring dishonor to His name.
So, watch your language!
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author.