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 NIV

Most, if not all of my good friends, use language carefully. They use the words which convey meaning best and don’t waste time dancing around a subject with big words, or worse still, words that are on the edge, if not over the edge, of profanity and cursing. These are the actions and life of my friends, but what about those others who inhabit a place of church  leadership? Not all leaders, but some will try to be so close to the unchurched that they want to be just like them. If that means the odd ‘soft swearword’ (if such a thing exists) is spoken, then so be it. If that kind of language is adopted by one or more of the leaders in a holiness church, what then? Do we ignore it and swiftly move on, pretending we didn’t hear? This behaviour disturbs me. Am I right to be disturbed, or should I accept this kind of talk from everyone, whether a professing Christian or not?

When it comes to the subject of ‘unwholesome talk’ there is another side to the verse. What about the talk that’s less than ‘whole’ and in fact by its tone is a stumbling block? Not only are we required to keep our tongues clean, we have a responsibility to live out the truth of Christ in our day to day existence. After all, our tongue has the ability to build up and encourage, or tear down and discourage, or worse. When Christians talk to each other, not only do we have to avoid gossip and bad language, we must choose our words and tone carefully so that the wrong message is not conveyed. The warning is that the tongue can corrupt our whole life, “for it is set on fire by hell itself.” May our speech be acceptable to our Lord and Saviour at all times, and in all circumstances to all people. 

In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:5,6 NLT


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