Healthy Speech

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth." (Colossians 3:8)

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." (Colossians 4:6)

The first noticeable change in the man or woman converted to Christ is seen in his or her speech. (Consider James 3:2-12.). The person who belongs to God does not use words, tones, or expressions as people who do not belong to God.

Years ago, I listened to a man explain why for years he never attended nor gave serious consideration to anyone who attended a congregation of the Church of Christ. He said a leader in the local congregation came into a place of business obviously upset. He expressed his displeasure with language and tones a godly person does not use. The man talking to me heard him, knew who he was, knew where he worshipped, and decided immediately he would never attend where a “member” spoke as the upset Christian did.

In the early 70’s in West Africa, I used an old story as I encouraged a group of local preachers. The story: a dying man called his sons to his bedside. He requested that they bring a small board, a nail, and a hammer. He told his oldest son to drive the nail into the board. He asked another son to pull the nail out of the board. He asked another son to pull out the hole. When the hole could not be removed, he gave this simple admonition: “Pay careful attention to your words. You will never remove the holes they leave.” Years later a man who heard the story that day said he never forgot the lesson.

All of us say things that cause us to shake our heads later (sometimes years later). We can (if fortunate) ask for forgiveness, but we know we can never remove the hole.

God uses words carefully. He speaks truth, but thankfully he always speaks with grace. God’s grace seasons the words God’s children use. God seeks our good even when we fail. God’s children seek the good of others. They let God’s patience teach them how to be patient. God’s patience affects what they say to anyone and how they say it. Holy manners demand we watch what we say everywhere. God always listens!

Jesus once said, “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37)

Godly hearts speak godly words. Give attention to a godly heart! Speak godly words! We owe that to each other as fellow Christians—and to everyone else as we represent God. May what we say give people a good impression of God and His people!

David Chadwell
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 14 June 2007

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