Mind your language, please!
The Daily Telegraph of 31 July contained a feature on Rev. Michael Land, vicar of St Mary the Virgin in the village of Burghill, Herefordshire. Rev. Land is quoted as saying, ‘The church must be more street-wise and use language most people use today’.
Shockingly, Rev. Land was also reported as saying, ‘Christians need to use swearing in their everyday language because it is how Jesus would have spoken’. Mr Land himself seems to have no qualms about using bad language when wearing his clerical collar, as, he says, ‘The church needs to modernise, and that means keeping up with the trends in language’.
We scour the Scriptures in vain to find the Lord Jesus swearing or using foul language. Scripture attests to his absolute sinlessness. ‘He … knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21); ‘he committed no sin’ (1 Peter 2:22). Christ’s impeccability is integral to Christian salvation, for only a sinless one could offer up his life as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of others.
Christ’s sinless-ness was uniform and total. It permeated his speech, as every other aspect of his being. Just one use of bad language would have rendered his sacrifice at Calvary invalid. But he kept God’s law and always pleased his Father.
The Bible also teaches that the habitual use of foul language is incompatible with the redeemed life. Our speech betrays our nature. Jesus said, ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:45).
There will be, and there ought to be, a vast difference between the speech of a Christian – someone washed in the blood of Christ and indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit – and a non-Christian. Our language is a measure of the state of our souls.
How could a Christian ever employ the language of the unredeemed? ‘Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grape-vine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh’ (James 3:10-12).
Whilst bad language is common on the media and in the workplace, Christians are not to let this fallen world squeeze them into its depraved mould. ‘Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). Christ exhorts us to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14).
Our ‘non-conformity’ is to be reflected even in the way we speak and language we employ. Paul exhorts Christians: ‘Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying’ (Ephesians 4:29) and ‘Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt’ (Colossians 4:6).
Non-Christians will certainly not be drawn to the Saviour by swearing! Salvation though is surely aided and abetted by a life and speech transformed by the grace of God in Christ (Titus 2:10).