The other day I got some plastic letters ready to put on the sign in front of church. They were stacked up in order, placed neatly in a basket.
I set it down and turned to talk to someone. Crash! The basket fell and the letters went everywhere. I turned to my friend, my eyes wide with surprise. I laughed and started picking up letters, resigned to spending a little extra time getting them back in order.
"At least I didn't say a naughty word!" I joked as I worked.
"Oh, you do that, too?" my friend asked.
"Well, usually it's just in my head, but sometimes, yeah."
Swearing has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
I wanted to read Trevor Noah's book Born a Crime, but it was always checked out at the library. One day I happened to check and they had the CD version.
|I recommend listening to this book on CD - he performs it so well, especially since there are so many |
lines of dialogue in African languages. You just have to be ready for a fair amount of swearing.
As I began listening, I was fascinated with his stories about growing up in South Africa. His mother is black and his father is white, which was a crime during apartheid. Every once in a while, he would throw in a swear word, but I could handle it.
As I continued to listen, the swearing became more frequent, and I became more uncomfortable. I had to wrestle with my thoughts a bit before I decided I could continue to listen.
He wasn't taking God's name in vain. The words he used were actually understandable as he told stories about growing up in South Africa. He was poor. He was colored (His word, not mine. That's the term they used for mixed races.) He went through experiences that most of us could not even imagine. He was telling his story and he was using the language he used during those years. I couldn't really expect him to change things to "shoot" and "frick" just to protect my sensitive ears.
That being said, I think that all of us would do well to examine how we're talking.
What is the first word we think of when something bad happens to us? Maybe we can't stop a swear word from entering our mind, but we can usually keep it from coming out of our mouths with just a little effort.
True confession time: I remember when Gary and I were first married and living on the farm. It was winter and I had to go outside for something. I was running across the yard and our dog, Skip, got in front of me and made me fall.
For some reason, I told Gary's family that when we got together, and my sister-in-law Helen smirked and said, "What did you say then?"
I probably blushed as I muttered, "Dumb dog." She laughed, but I've always wondered if she knew I was lying. (She does now!)
Truth is, I said a lot worse than "Dumb dog." I said something that starts with an F. I know, it shocked me, too. I hardly ever swore, let alone used that word.
I was in a bad mood, and when that dumb dog tripped me, swearing was the first thing on my mind. Luke 6:45 says it is "out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."
Don't you find that that's true? When your heart is right, swear words are far from your thoughts. When your heart is messed up, you can think all kinds of nasty things.
My heart was good the other day in the office. I really didn't even think of any naughty words when the letters fell. I don't want my friend to think that I take swearing lightly, because it's serious.
We can overlook the swearing of others, especially when they don't know any better, but we can be careful to refrain from using bad language so that we can be a good example for others.
Even when your dumb dog trips you and makes you fall in the snow.
"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." (Ephesians 4:29 NIV)
Do you have a problem with swearing? How can focusing on God help you to get your heart right and use words that are wholesome instead?