Swearing, cursing, and using your voice for God
Why godly language is so much more than just cutting out bad words.
At high school everyone swore.
Swearing, cussing, blaspheming, whatever you call it, everyone was doing it. During sport, behind the back of teachers, on the bus, everyone swore…including me.
By the time I was halfway through high school, I started taking Jesus pretty seriously and realised I probably shouldn’t be swearing so much any more.
I knew that the mature Christians at church never swore, but unfortunately swearing had become so normal for me, it was hard to change.
How I finally stopped swearing
So I prayed. I asked God to change me, to help me honour Him with my mouth, to help to stop swearing. Almost straight away he answered that prayer and my bad language was soon a thing of the past.
I was convinced that if I stopped swearing people would notice.
I thought they’d ask me why I didn’t swear, which would give me a great chance to tell them that I was a Christian.
The only question was, how quickly would they notice the big change?
Why cutting out swearing wasn’t enough
I went from class to class sure that someone would pull me aside and ask that question, “why don’t you swear?”.
I waited one day…nobody noticed. I waited one week…nobody noticed. I waited one month… still nobody noticed!
I think the reason they didn’t notice was because in some ways, I hadn’t really changed at all. Yes, I’d stopped swearing, but I still loved to gossip, I still boasted about my skills in sport. I didn’t swear, but my language was still a long way from being godly.
It was after this that I realised a big truth — godly language means more than not swearing.
The apostle Paul understood this in a profound way. He writes in Colossians 3:8 (ESV):
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
It’s more then just obscene talk that we have to stop. Paul is telling us that God cares about everything we say.
Discovering a new way to speak
Thankfully, Paul doesn’t end the book with verse 8, he continues in verse 12:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
This is a game changer. If you want to stop an old habit, you don’t just tell yourself to stop, you replace it with a new one.
That’s why Paul doesn’t just tell us to just put away sinful behaviour, he tells us to put on godly ones.
For example, next time someone makes you feel angry, don’t tell yourself, “stop being angry”. Instead, try to be patient with them. Listen to them, speak slowly with a compassionate heart.
Godly language means more than not swearing, it means being kind with our words. It means being humble with our words. It means using our words to build others up.
The opposite of boasting isn’t not boasting, it’s humility. We don’t just stop one behavior, we put on a new one in its place. Because using our words for God means using our words for good.