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The Impact of Our Words

July 2009

     A while ago, while installing some equipment at a place of business, some rather heavy lifting was required. One of the employees who the business assigned to help with that part, voiced some expletives during the process, but then quickly apologised with an "excuse my French."
     Most of us have been taught since childhood, that there are good words, and there are bad words. And in general, society has given recognition to this principle. Swearing is not considered to be in good taste, and most people recognize that there are certain words which are understood to be "foul" and unbecoming to use.
     However, according to a recent wire services news report, it appears that some researchers at England's Keele University have "discovered" that "volunteers withstood pain longer when they resorted to distasteful invective." And the implication is that giving vent to foul-mouthed profanity is "good for you."
     Well, pardon me, but I question a premise which attempts to justify conduct that in general is understood to be morally defining and socially reprehensible.
     Beside the social implications and expectations, we also turn to the Scriptures, and find that there is indeed a deeper issue at stake in regard to our speech. What comes out of the mouth, God's Word tells us, is indicative of what is in the heart.
     "The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things" (Proverbs 15:28). Even though that was written many years ago, it still sounds much like what is the experience of men today.
     Wise people cleanse their hearts by God's grace -- and they also pay attention to their words. They think before they speak, and they recognize that their words have potential for blessing to their hearers -- or definitely otherwise -- if what is spoken is vengeful invective coming from a wicked heart.
     Never think that our words are neutral.
     In fact, our words will follow us beyond the grave.
     Jesus said, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" Matthew 12:35-37).
     As human beings we are created Imago Dei -- in the image of God. And to me, the fact that people still apologize for using profanity is an indication of this very truth. God has placed a certain understanding of right and wrong within us, and the inner conscience bears witness.
     To speak and to communicate is one of the greatest gifts we can enjoy. The challenge is to use this gift well.

- Mervin Brubacher,
   Barwick, ON

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