Breaking Bad Habits Day 2: Profanity and Crude Talk
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. (Colossians 3:8, ESV)
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:4, ESV)
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:10-12, ESV)
You’re at the lunch table at school, the break room at work, the locker room before a game, or maybe even out to eat with some friends. An unsavory topic arises, comments are made, and you are left with the choice to either participate in the conversation or keep to yourself and hope the topic changes soon. When I was younger, these situations seemed to arise more frequently and were a bigger issue to deal with, but depending on who your coworkers are or who you spend time with, you could find yourself in this scenario more than most.
Just as with gossiping, the Bible is very clear that profanity and crude talk have no place in the life of a believer. As Christians, we are a called-out people—we are called out of the world and called to be followers of Christ. Given that fact, not using profanity and not engaging in crude talk is another way to separate ourselves in our conduct from the rest of the world. It is often said that a reputation takes years to build but only seconds to destroy. It is going to be impossible to get it right every time, but it should be our goal to keep profanity and crude talk out of our vocabulary.
The first three verses at the start of this devotional are from the Apostle Paul. He makes it exceedingly clear that the mouths of believers should never be the source of corrupting talk, obscene talk, foolish talk, or crude joking. In fact, he says that Christians should be a source of building up and thanksgiving. We read in James that the mouth of a believer should not produce both blessing and cursing. Sadly, it is possible for a believer to bless the Lord on Sunday and go right back to cursing on Monday, but this should never be the case.
A true believer, one whose heart has been changed, should only have a desire to bless the Lord and never curse. If you struggle with using profanity or engaging in crude talk, it may help to get to the source of the problem. What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of movies do you watch? What kind of content do you consume? Who do you spend the most time with and what are they like? We can easily become desensitized to profanity and crude talk.
To eliminate these negative influences, replace them with positive ones. Replacing music filled with profanity with Christian music, only watching movies below a certain rating, limiting time around people who use profane language (or, if you’re brave enough, asking them not to use it in front of you!) are all starting points. Replace the urge to use profanity with saying something positive instead. The more time spent reading and studying the Bible, praying, hanging out with believers, and attending church meetings will make it even less likely that we’ll use profanity. It would be my prayer that each of us work to remove profanity and crude talk from our vocabularies. Instead of being vessels of cursing and negativity, we are to be vessels of blessing and positivity, distinguishing ourselves from a sinful world and being good testimonies for the Lord.