Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
There are people who like to reduce God to just a rule maker who punishes rule breakers. They want to understand and control the One who is beyond both, so they make God very small in their minds. For instance, their take away from this passage would be, “Don’t swear.” Thankfully, Jesus elaborates on this and we know why swearing is unbecoming in Matthew 5. But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (v.34-37)
Don’t use foul or abusive language... Not the same as swearing even though “swear words” are used. What’s wrong with a few expletives? Let everything you say be good and helpful... Good and helpful means there’s a conversation going on here. So that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them... It doesn’t sound like someone just hit their thumb with a hammer alone in their garage, does it? This is directions for a Believer in a full blown conversation with another person.
God is not a hall monitor. I dropped a very heavy object directly on my big toe once that turned it purple and black for a year. At the moment of impact, there was swearing and praying. Both. And I am still saved.
In this passage, Paul is telling us how to communicate effectively and how to share our faith with others, correct someone, or debate – all things that will come up in the life of a Believer as we interact with all kinds of people. We’ll be called upon to defend the Truth and defend our Faith. These conversations can get heated, and it’s much harder to get a godly point across with heated words mixed in. Don’t use foul and abusive language to get a point across; it doesn’t work.
My husband knows a guy on facebook who says he doesn’t go to church because sometimes his speech is salty. Well, he’s welcome to come to our church where we haven’t reduced God to hall monitor status. God is big. And he gave us instructions on how to effectively communicate important things and be the voice of reason for others without using hot words in order that our words would be received. He knows, a CARPENTER knows, what hitting your thumb with a hammer feels like and is not out to get anyone for responding to that!
Thank you that you are big, Big, BIG! Thank you that you don’t keep a watchful eye on me waiting for me to mess up but because you LOVE me, care for me, and protect me. Thank you for giving me specific instructions in your Word on how to express myself to others, and THANK YOU that you never hold it against me for expressing myself to you. I love you and thank you and pray in Jesus’ name, amen.