"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29 NLT
As you read this, you may be saying to yourself, "You know, this doesn't apply to me. I never curse." Well, I beg to differ.
I don't know about you, but when I first read this, I felt the same thing. But then a thought came. What really does the words foul or abusive mean? I went searching. In the International Bible Dictionary, foul means: The verb "foul" (defile) occurs as the translation of raphas, "to trample" or "muddle". In Noah Webster's Dictionary, "abusive" means: Practicing abuse; prone to ill treat by coarse, insulting words or by other ill usage.
So, if you understand the two main words that we are being warned about in the beginning of the scripture--foul and abusive--aren't necessarily the normal four-letter words that we would get our mouths washed out with soap. It changes, at least for me, the whole concept.
I think that it is saying that anytime that you use a word or tone that it is hurtful, degrading and unkind it is foul and abusive. If a person feels trampled upon, or insulted after you have spoken to them, you have used foul and abusive language. In that light, we are all guilty.
And you know, it isn't always words. A tone can impart a message that you may not even be aware of. You can be using normal words, but the tone in which that message was spoken in, may crush a spirit faster than anything.
The gift of speech is that--a gift. We should use it wisely. The Lord knew the temptation to speak without thinking. The Bible is full of warnings. Read Proverbs. There are many references to the power of the tongue and it's affect on the human spirit. At one point, He even warns that; "Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:4 NLT.
Are you guilty of this? Do you speak and after think about the affect? Do you feel that it doesn't matter what you say, people understand you and know that you didn't mean it? Stop it! Stop and pray. A good practice to get into is to begin your day with a prayer that includes praying about your speech and tone--to help you to use this gift to encourage, uplift and spread the love of Jesus to everyone that comes into your path that day.
Oh, and one last thought--how's your words and tone when you direct them towards your Savior? Do you talk to your dog in a tone that is kinder than when you speak to Him? Do you care how they come across to Him? He deserves the best you can give and that includes your gift of speech. Don't you agree?