Friday, January 20, 2012

Matching Speech to God's Standards

When asking for a snack, my four-year-old grandson Adam forgot to say “please.” I responded traditionally with, “What’s the magic word?” He thought for a long moment then hesitantly said, “Abracadabra?”

            Although “abracadabra” wasn’t the word I was listening for, it worked magic with this grandma. Skilled language and good manners are vital to children and adults, and some adults need refresher courses in speaking with humble words, low-key enough for the youngest ears.

            Plugged In Online is a Focus on the Family endeavor giving up-to-date reviews of movies and television programs. In one review, Plugged In reports on “the animated brats in ‘South Park’” a “series about a group of foul-mouthed third-graders.”

            The dialogue is a “near-constant flow of profanity” and “includes hateful exchanges.” The scripted lines apparently come from the dark recesses of adult minds. 

            Before the show debuted, “Newsweek” quoted its creator Trey Parker, “I can guarantee it will be the raunchiest thing on television.” In one interview, creators Parker and Matt Stone spoke about the show’s profanity. “It’s made us a lot of money.” I guess I have to ask where the adult-size bars of soap are when you need them.

            To point a blaming finger at propagators of filthy language is the easy way out. The difficult discipline remains closer to home, to match one’s speech to God’s standards. “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).

            Language atrocities range from filthy to flippant. Even indifferent responses leave impressions: Who cares? Whatever! No Problem. Oh well! When looking to Jesus as our model for humility, behavior, and language, it‘s difficult to picture him rolling his eyes and responding, “Whatever.”

            We adults can give ourselves a personal speech test by asking how much of our vocabulary hits the cutting floor before entering a church building, a house of worship. In everyday life, toes get hurt, hammers hit fingers, dishes slip and break, but profane words don’t have to spew.

            Brash, braggadocios words directly oppose humble language. Prayers and purposeful screening of television shows can create barriers to keep harsh communication from entering homes. To young ears, wholesome language, affirmations, and gentle corrections become antidotes to street-language. In addition, old ears don’t need to hear course language either.

            In the office, at home, and on the street, use magic words: those that benefit listeners. When we speak, remember God hears not only our prayers but also the useless words we utter. Let’s speak as though our sweet grandmothers were listening and we’ll develop humble language.

            Hunger for Humility (3): “Throw out the mocker, and fighting goes, too. Quarrels and insults will disappear” (Proverbs 22:10).

            Contact Cathy at

No comments:

Post a Comment