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Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lamenting Language

I was listening to an episode of "Talk the Walk" about lamenting. (By the way, if you haven't checked out Todd Friel yet, you should. He's bold, blunt and quite Biblical...good stuff.) He reminded me that as a believer, I do not have to be happy and sunshine 24/7. Instead, I need to be honest with my emotions, and honest about what's happening, but never doubting God's providence.

So I'm thinking about a situation I've been a part of for two weeks now. I'm not a poet (I tried once on this sight, ugh). But I started thinking through how I would lament this current situation. I started thinking through how I would express my thoughts and emotions clearly. It was scary.

Not scary because I had to deal with negative emotions, I've been doing that. But scary because of the vocabulary that came through my mind to express my views. Now, I wasn't hurling the "seven explatives not fit for television," but I was tempted to utter words and phrases that I've corrected others for saying. Where was this coming from? Was it OK?

Negative emotions are great (Isn't Scripture filled with God feeling anger, sorrow and pain?). But I must guard that I never allow my mouth to dishonor God. How could openingly sinning be worship of God? Existentialism has watered down the significance of words. However, I can't escape what Jesus said:

"You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart."--Matthew 12:34

"It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."--Matthew 15:11

"But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man."--Matthew 15:18

Jesus is SO serious about words. (I didn't even mention James 3!) So what is the answer?

I don't believe it's prudish to avoid certain phrases. I also don't think it's liberating as a believer to use defiling language. Is my dishonoring language is a pure glorification of God? That just doesn't make sense. If I know it's unwholesome, it should be avoided (Ephesians 4:29). I should discipline myself to avoid that which is obviously defiling.

Read more. Part of my issue is that I do not read enough. My vocabulary is so limited that I find myself using only a few words to convey the condition of my heart. If my vocabulary was expanded, I could more accurately express myself in a way that is not dishonoring to the Lord.

The Word must be my standard on words. When was my language most dishonoring to God? In Christian college. I grew up in the public school system and knew that I couldn't speak as others do. It was easy to see the distinction. Then I went to a wonderful college full of believers. I got lazy. I assumed that because others talk a certain way, it must be OK for me to talk that way too. (Ironically, I went even further and probably had one of the worst mouths in the school for a while. Obviously, the problem was not christian education, or even Grace College, but rather, me.) I am so quick to allow others to be my standard. I heard a person express the usage of inappropriate language on a blog once as, "It's not a big deal. Everyone talks on blogs like this." What? So when the media is electronic, God lowers His standards. Obviously, the answer is no. The confusion comes in that I am all too quick to lower mine.

I have by no means arrived when it comes to pure language. And I have no desire to list the words that defile God. Hey, if Paul didn't do that in Ephesians, what makes me think I could pull it off? It is about the heart. But I think Jesus was also clear that it's not possible to utter certain words or phrases witha pure heart. When I use vulgar, coarse or inappropriate language, it should make me lament...the condition of my heart and my intellect.


  • At 5:06 PM, Blogger Gary Underwood said…

    just read the title. Uh... oops.

  • At 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is a difference between strong language, offensive language and indecent language. The bible has lots of examples of the first two. "Dash my enemies babies against the rocks" comes to mind. I find that offensive.
    I think sometimes our English translations mask the intensity of parts of the Bible like "Lamentations."

    Writing is a craft. (contrary to what you usually see in blogs) Sentences should be reworked until they are honestly expressive without being indecent. The more you do it, the easier it gets


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