“Not in Vain”

Read: Exodus 20:7 and James 1:19-26

Yesterday as I was reading the newspaper an interesting article jumped out at me. The headline read “Massachusetts town votes to punish use of profanity.” I guess the town of Middleborough, Mass. decided to put a penalty on foul-mouthed swearing in public.

Each time the police hear someone using obscene and profane language in public they will be issued a ticket for $20. Downtown store owners are happy about it, but some people are questioning whether this violates first amendment rights.

Laws aside, I think many would agree that obscene and profane language is not good. It does nothing to make the people speaking those words or hearing those words feel better about themselves or the other person. And yet it is shocking how often we hear them in the course of everyday life.

It is especially heartbreaking when we hear the Lord’s name used in a profane manner. One of the Ten Commandments specifically says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” In the King James Version most people know it to say, “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

In James 1 the Bible is very clear that our tongue is a powerful force. In verse 26 James says, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” After all, why would we want to curse the God who made us in his image and created all that is?

Some people think it is “cool” to cuss, maybe because that’s what they do in the movies. When they cuss around their friends for some reason it makes them feel like one of the crowd. But actually they are damaging their witness, and as I said above, nobody actually feels good when profane language is uttered.

I’m not sure how I feel about a law for cursing, but I know how God feels about it, and as a Christian and follower of Jesus, that’s all I need to know. Christian’s, let’s keep our language pure, holy, and acceptable to God… even when we’re angry or things aren’t going our way.

Make it personal: If you have had trouble keeping a tight reign on your tongue (profanity, gossip, etc.), ask a friend to hold you accountable. If they hear those words coming out, they should remind you about God’s desire for your speech. Changing bad habits is sometimes a process, but if you don’t start, the process will not start either.

Blessings in your Speech,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church