June 26, 2017

Appropriate Words

Devotion for the Week...

Last week, while talking to a 5 year old girl, Nathan used the word stupid. She looked at him, wide-eyed, and said, "You said a bad word!" When he told me the story, I had to explain that many families don't allow little kids to use the word stupid because it's usually used in the context of calling someone names. Apparently he doesn't remember that he wasn't allowed to use the word when he was younger either, lol.

That conversation with Nathan made me think of other times when word choice was an issue with little kids. There was the time we were in our church's Thursday night children's program and Michelle made a mistake during her presentation and said, "Crap." The kids nearly exploded in their shock! Meanwhile, we three leaders were all looking at each other in surprise, thinking, "That's a bad word?" None of us had any issue with the word, but apparently these kids had been taught it was bad.

And when Aiden was in grade 1 he was asked to narrate the kindergarten dramatization of the Christmas story during the school's Christmas concert. The kindergarten student who had been chosen as narrator wouldn't do it because he had been taught that "Jesus" is a curse word and he wouldn't say it.

Of course, there are also instances where the pendulum swings the other way and kids aren't restricted from using any words at all. When Nathan was in grade 1 there was a child in his class who could say whatever he wanted. His language was so bad that Paul had to speak to him one day when he was playing outside with Nathan because Paul couldn't handle the foul language coming from him!

Zach once asked me what makes a bad word bad, and I really had no answer for him. The best I could come up with is that society decides certain words are inappropriate for use in polite conversation. There really is no set standard that applies to all societies for what constitutes bad language.

The Bible, though, does set out a standard for good language. It's not necessarily about particular word choices, but about the content and intent of your words. Consider these verses:

Ephesians 4:29: "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."

Colossians 4:6: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." 

Psalm 19:14: "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

What do our words say about us? How do we use our words to talk to others? How do we talk about others? Is our speech helpful for building others up, or are we more likely to tear them down? Is our conversation always full of grace, or full of judgement?

Are we even aware of how we talk? Do we listen to ourselves enough to hear negativity or judgement or condemnation when they come out of our mouths? These are questions worth pondering as we go about our days, chatting with cashiers and friends, waitresses, family members and co-workers.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

What pops out of our mouths when we drop something is probably less important that what we say when someone hurts us. And what we say when we stub a toe is probably less important than what we say about the people we work with.

This week, let's try to be sure we're choosing appropriate words.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Leanne! Ephesians 4:29 is such a good reminder that we are meant to be encouraging to those around us. Philippians 4:8 also tells us what we should be THINKING about- noble, pure, and lovely things. And if we're thinking about those things, they will naturally come out in out speech. I love reading your posts!

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  2. Your comment on the content and intent of the words spoken really hit home to me. Simple words said with wrong intent can do much harm. They are remembered and hard sometimes to forgive. Lorinda's comment above is also a good point. Maybe I need to talk less, think more and use better words!

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