The U-Word

James 3:9-12

Purify your language to purify your life.

I’m not a foul-mouthed person. It’s not that I don’t know the words, and it’s not as if they haven’t escaped from my mouth a number of times over the years. But throughout my adult life, I’ve decided that it was pointless to clutter up my language with words and phrases that do not reflect well on me and the God I serve.

As a teacher of English, I reject the idea that there are words that are somehow “dirty.” Words, by themselves, are just collections letters or sounds. What makes a word “dirty” or “impure” is what lies behind it. And when you think of most of the so-called “dirty words,” you’ll find that they’re mostly hurtful to people.

Sure, there is probably somebody who is driven to distraction by the word “person,” because it has the male-suggesting “son” in it. I can’t please that person, but I can try to avoid the words and the phrases and the sentences that clearly offend a wider range of people.

We have words that put down people because of their age or their race or their gender, because of their politics or their family situation or a dozen other things. We have them, and they can hurt. They’re ugly words, and the world has enough ugliness already.

  • What careless language do you allow to lurk in your speech?
  • Do you have a problem with words that offend the people with whom you share your life?
  • Pray that God will open your eyes to the changes that need to come into your language to edify rather than tearing down.