Some Words on Words

A gospel band recently released a song that contained a word not included in most gospel songs. We recently released a podcast called “The F-Bomb in a Gospel Song” which addressed this happening. The response, both to the song itself and to our discussion of it, has been immense. We released a follow-up podcast to continue the conversation.

As is often the case with these things, the results have been mixed. In my mind, it has been a constructive dialogue for those who make up the church. For those who take the Scriptures to be what they claim to be, it is readily apparent that words matter. At the same time, there are those who want to make the Scriptures say more than they do on this subject. For my part, I decided to take a fresh look at some of the major texts that address how we talk. Here are five things I found as I surveyed these different texts.

1.There is power in our words, and if you fail to recognize that you’re ignorant of the Scriptures.

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

2. If you’re flippant about your words, you may end up eating them or they may end up eating you.

Proverbs 21:23
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

James 1:26
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

3. The greater your influence, the more carefully you need to weigh and watch your words.

4. The words I use—like my prayer life—is probably something every true Christian faces conviction on daily. Maturity and sanctification means we will always be growing in this area.

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

5. Keep in mind that our words build up or tear down- they can promote unity or they can be used to destroy it.

1 Peter 3:8-12
8Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 

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Andrew Murch serves as the Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA. He earned his MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary ('06) and his BA in Biblical Studies with a concentration in Biblical Languages from Evangel University ('03). He is currently pursuing a DMin in Expository Preaching from Western Seminary in Portland, OR. Andrew is married to Carissa and they have four young daughters.