Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Soap for a Dirty Mouth

I grew up in a culture where any good mother fixed the problem of a dirty mouth with soap. Several of my grade school friends experienced a good mouth washing. They related to me that a mouthful of soap really doesn't taste all that great. The problem of a dirty mouth goes a little deeper than the tongue. The battle for a pure mouth starts at the heart. A godly man was helping shingle the roof on a church. He hit his thumb squarely with the hammer. As blood squirted from the wound he said "This is going to really be inconvenient." "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Paul challenged the believers at Emphasis with the following. “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.” (Ephesians 4:29). As believers we are ambassadors of Christ. A faithful ambassadors is on duty 24/7. Every conversation we engage in gives opportunity to impart grace to those who might be in desperate need of it. We must be careful to not waste such an opportunity by means of frivolous, meaningless conversation, or even worse speech that is vulgar or obscene. Every believer is given opportunity to point lost, hopeless, people to the Lamb of God, who takes away sin. When Paul wrote about "Unwholesome talk" I believe he had several things in mind. The first thing would be taking the Name of the Lord in vain. This would be a great contradiction of who we are as Christians. No one in a good marriage would stomp on his marriage license or wedding ring to express anger, they stand for that which is holy and pure. So does the Name of our God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Second, trivializing the terrible. Things like hell, damnation and holiness. These are all realities. It is a travesty to use the reality of hell like a punctuation mark for emphasis when talking about sports or politics. The same holds true for damnation. The divine command "Be holy as I am holy," carries for us the same weight it carried for Moses, Jesus and the apostles. To use the expression "Holy cow or holy anything ought to smite our hearts, because it treats something infinitely precious as trifle. Third, referencing sex and the body in vulgar ways. The whole assumption behind the use of vulgar four-letter words is that they communicate scorn, disdain or hate. How does the act of sexual relations, created by God as good to be fulfilled in marriage get translated into a four letter word and carry the meaning of hate and scorn? The answer is simple, first one has to get God out of their mind. When God is pushed out of a persons thoughts, they are then "Free" to become "Slaves to sin." (Romans 6:20). And fourth, speaking in mean spirited ways. This reflects the attitude behind the words. Castigating a person, besmirching or putting others down, indicating they are stupid, worthless, drawing attention to their shortcomings, mocking another. This all relates to unwholesome talk which ought not characterize a believer. We can talk ourselves out of a good testimony. Some questions to ask about our use of words. Do they nourish? Do they heal? Do they lift up and encourage? Are your words coming from a healthy heart? Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:34-37). This might be a good time to ask the Lord to use some divine soap on your heart.

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