Christians Need to Stop Swearing

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Too many Christians have potty mouths. WAY too many. The number of Christians I know who curse with regularity and apparent unashamedness astonishes me. I’ve been guilty of it in the past. You probably have too. Maybe you’re the kind of Christian that could hang out with sailors and keep up with the best of them. Maybe you’re the kind of Christian that fits right in with locker room talk or back of the bus conversation, if you consider such obscenity to be actual conversation.

Christians need to stop swearing. It is as simple as that.

Do we have tremendous freedom in Christ concerning language? Of course. Should we verbally condemn non Christians for using foul language? Probably not. But generally speaking, this issue doesn’t need a huge theological explanation and it doesn’t need any more explanation than the Bible itself gives. Scripture speaks a surprisingly great amount about the words that come out of our mouths (Click here for a fairly complete list).

Based on these Scriptures, here are 10 compelling and Biblical reasons for Christians to just plain stop swearing.

1. Our words are powerful. (James 3:8)

Our words wield great power. The famous saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword” is Biblically true. James compares our words to the bit in a horse’s mouth and the rudder of a ship – both seemingly small things that can change the entire direction of something larger. Our lives will be steered and directed by the way we use our words. Just like every gift or ability that God has entrusted to us, we ought to use our powerful words in a way that pleases God.

2. Freshwater springs don’t pour out saltwater. (James 3:11-13)

As Christians who have been washed clean by the blood of Christ, we have had the water of our hearts purified. Therefore, it shouldn’t be in our nature to spew nasty saltwater like we did prior to encountering Christ. Christians ought to pour out and exude pure, clean, and fresh words – not filthy, stagnant, useless saltwater. Our words ought to produce life in others, like freshwater, not dehydrate and sicken people like saltwater.

3. The religion of people who refuse to bridle their tongue is worthless (James 1:26)

True Christianity is one that lives out the commands and word of God. We have been commanded to be self-controlled and use our words wisely. We have been commanded to put away all filthy talk and actions from our lives now that we are in Christ. James boldly declares that Christians who refuse to bridle their tongues have deceived their own hearts, and their religion is worthless.

4. Our words should give grace and build up, not corrupt others. (Ephesians 4:29)

In his instructions for how to live a new life in Christ, Paul includes verse 29. Just two verses earlier he said, “Give no opportunity to the devil.” Christians are called to use their words differently than they did before they were Christians. If you use the same kind of language as non-believers do or as you did prior to being in Christ, you are giving opportunity to the devil, corrupting the hearts and minds of yourself and those around you, and withholding the blessing, grace, and upbuilding that comes from Godly speech.

5. We will give an account for every careless word we speak on judgment day (Matthew 12:36-37)

In the context of “a tree is known by its fruit”, Jesus uses language as a prime example of how our external behavior reveals the content of our hearts. He then warns us that on judgment day, each one of us will give an account for every careless word we speak. He also says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Swearing and crude speech isn’t meaningless to God. It is blatant sin and you will give an account for every nasty word you have ever spoken on judgment day.

6. When we swear and curse with the same mouth we praise God and bless others with, we become hypocrites. (James 3:10)

Hypocrisy (putting on a show of religion and holiness without actually living like it) is one of the primary sins of Christian people and always has been. To sing in church and read God’s word on a Sunday only to go home or on social media and start dropping swear words without hesitation is the definition of hypocrisy. If this is you, every time you swear you are revealing just how little you value God and his desire that his people live holy lives and speak holy words.

7. God considers swearing and crude joking filthy, out of place, and foolish (Ephesians 5:4)

A little swear here and a crude joke there may not seem like a big deal, but Christians ought to consider it a big deal that God sees such things as filthy, out of place, and foolish. If we really love God and want to please him with our words, we will eradicate such speech from our lives.

8. Crude words reveal what is really in our hearts, despite the religious show we put on. (Luke 6:45)

Our words reveal our hearts. We can be hypocrites all we want and put on a religious show of holiness and morality on Sundays at church, but the language we use shows us the true content of our hearts, “For out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.” Our words are the overflow of the content of our hearts and minds. If our speech is dominated by filthiness, so are our hearts.

9. We are ambassadors of Christ and his kingdom. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Christians represent God and his kingdom to the world. Paul says that Christians are the means by which God makes his appeal to the world. If we represent Christ, we better live in such a way that accurately represents his heart and mind. Filthy talk does the opposite. Filthy language spewed from the mouth of a Christian will tarnish God’s name among unbelievers. There ought to be nothing more important in the life, heart, and mind of a believer than to accurately represent God to the world through words.

10. God says very clearly not to. (List of verses)

In summary, it is one of God’s simplest and plainest commands. If we claim Christ as our King, then we must obey him, which includes learning to control our tongues. Though it is difficult, all things are possible with God. So stop cursing, for all the reasons above, but mostly because God said to.

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Where Is God In The Midst of Tragedy?

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God, where are you? How could you let this happen? Do you even care?

In the wake of an unspeakable tragedy in Texas yesterday, some of these questions and thoughts might be haunting your heart and mind as you fight back tears of hurt, anger, and confusion. Perhaps, like me, you can’t even find the words to describe the emotions you’re feeling. You find yourself unable to wrap your mind around the vast horror and evil that has taken place. Lost in a foggy daze of confusion about what to think and feel. And how are we, as Christians who believe in a good and sovereign God, supposed to respond to such great tragedy. Is mourning enough? Is prayer enough? Is there any comfort to be found in the midst of such loss? Does God really have anything to say about this?

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk asked some of these same questions several thousand years ago as unprecedented national destruction crept slowly but unavoidably upon the people of Israel. The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires posed great threat to God’s people. It is likely that for many years, Habakkuk witnessed the downward spiral of Israel’s morality and the corresponding threat of impending doom. Rebellion against God was at an all time high and evil plagued the nation like never before.

It is in the midst of this setting that Habakkuk (whose name means “Wrestler”) cried out to God in the same type of hurt, anger, and confusion that many of us are feeling today. Habakkuk is unique among the prophets in that he did not speak for God to Israel, but to God for Israel. Most of the book (only 3 chapters) consists of Habakkuk verbalizing and directing his pain, his confusion, and his questioning toward the God he believed had remained silent for too long.

In deep anguish, he cries out in Habakkuk 1:2-4, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”

Habakkuk found the words that many Christians today are seeking in order to express their hearts to God while wondering: How long will we cry out to God for help and none seems to come? How long will we be forced to witness and experience the horror and violence of mass shootings without any hope that things are getting better? God, why are you sitting idly around while children are being murdered? Things are only getting worse down here, God, and your law and your commands don’t seem to be helping. This isn’t fair, and the “justice” that you claim to be all about seems completely absent. Wickedness surrounds us and we have no hope anymore. We need you, so where are you? Where are you when we need you most?

The remainder of chapters 1-2 is basically a heated conversation that Habakkuk has with God as he pounds God with question after question about his apparent silence and absence in the midst of violence, evil, and corruption. Then, the book concludes with one of the most powerful passages in all of Scripture. Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter 3 displays faith and trust in God in its purest form as he forces himself to remember and believe the truth of God’s word – about who God really is and all that he has done for his people. He finishes his faithful prayer like this (Habakkuk 3:17-19):

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

The confused, angry, hurting, and honest prophet finally brings himself, through reminder of who God is (his love, glory, goodness, and power) to a place of trust. A place that says, “God, even though everything around me is dying and crumbling, I will still trust you, I will still rejoice.”

The wrestling prophet’s struggle and conclusion provides us with a map for how to navigate through these modern times of seemingly unfathomable tragedy. Here are 4 brief but incredibly important things we ought to take to heart from this book.

1. He wrestled honestly, waited faithfully, and welcomed reverently.

The prophet turned to God in prayer despite all of his pain and confusion. He cried out openly and honestly to his God as he searched for understanding and instruction on how to cope with and respond to unspeakable tragedies of his day. Then, he waited faithfully for God to respond, and reverently welcomed God’s response even though it wasn’t what he wanted to hear. In the midst of the tragedies of our day, we must mourn, we must weep, and we must turn to God and wrestle with him honestly, listen for his response, and trust in his wisdom more than our own.

2. Sometimes God withholds answers, but reveals himself.

Habakkuk didn’t get the answers he was looking for. In fact, God confirmed his greatest fears, that it was going to get worse before it got better. But he also said, “If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Though more pain would come first, redemption and deliverance had been promised. We know now that it is only in Christ that such complete deliverance from death and sorrow is found. Oftentimes, rather than reveal all the answers and timelines and explanations to us, God simply reveals himself. He shows us who he is. He shows us how deeply he loves us. Knowing and believing who he is more fully is sometimes all that we need to find comfort in the midst of tragedy.

3. God doesn’t sit idly, he rules powerfully.

Multiple times Habakkuk accused God of distance, apathy, indifference, and idleness. God responded to the prophet’s confused and angry accusations by saying in 1:5, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” God isn’t idle, he is deeply involved in the goings on of the world and is constantly in the process of working out something amazing beyond our comprehension. Reminding ourselves that God is immanent and involved, not only in world events and national tragedies, but in personal pain and brokenness as well, ought to help transition us slowly from confusion to trust.

4. God is not distant in tragedy, he is particularly present.

During tragedy, God tends to seem particularly distant, even to the most faithful of believers. But God reminds us time and time again that he is not as distant as we might think. In fact, he is not distant at all. He is intricately involved in our lives and struggles and wants more than anything to relieve his people of all suffering and pain. To do this, he reveals himself to us. He revealed his Son, Jesus to us. He let his Son endure the greatest tragedy possible on the cross so that he could put an end to suffering once and for all. God is not far off, he is very near. The Bible clearly shows us that God is especially close at hand to the suffering.

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So what are we supposed to do? Where is God in the midst of tragedy? How are Christians supposed to respond? Like Habakkuk did. Mourn, weep, lament, cry out honestly to God and direct all of our confusion and anger at him. Wait faithfully for God to speak to us in response through his word and his Son. Remind ourselves that in the midst of tragedy, God is particularly present and involved in relieving the suffering of his people and revealing himself to us as one worthy of our trust. And we know that he is trustworthy because he himself endured ultimate suffering on the cross so that one day we might be completely set free from tragedy altogether.

Lord, reveal yourself to us. Make yourself known to our world. Comfort the afflicted. Heal brokenness. And draw us deeper into the healing power of knowing you.