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May 21

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Praying Like He#%!

swearing-at-workWhile watching the morning news, I heard a woman who had gone through a very harrowing ordeal say that while she was going through her life and death struggle, she began “praying like He#%!”

“Praying like He#%?”  I must admit I was taken back by her choice of words.  Now I certainly understand her shock, her fear, and even her poor judgment in her choice of words. I’m not wanting to “pile on” one who had narrowly escaped death.  Rather, the focus of this article is to note just how hard it is to control our tongue.  James wrote that unless we bridle our tongues, our religion is vain (James 1:26).  He also warned us that our speech shouldn’t contain both blessings and cursings (James 3:10).

Thus to the point of this article.  I understand that speech patterns are difficult to break.  If you have developed a poor speech pattern, what can you do to break that pattern?  Here are a few suggestions.

  • Recognize that Swearing is a Problem.  Many who swear tend you justify their poor choice of words because, after all, they’re just words.  But words have tremendous power (Proverbs 18:21), and your words have the power to separate you from God (James 3:8-12; Ephesians 4:29).
  • Slow Down.  Talk less.  Try thinking before speaking.  (James 1:19).
  • Enlist Support of friends, family, and even fellow Christians.  Let them know your desire.  Ask them to hold you accountable.  This will help to make us more conscience of our use of these words (Galatians 6:2).
  • Broaden Your Vocabulary.  Find better words, appropriate words, to express frustration, fear, surprise, and disappointment.
  • Treat all People with Greater Respect.  Many people find that cursing isn’t as “involuntary” as they say. When one finds himself around people he regards highly (a preacher, elders, parents, etc.), he is more likely to control his language.  If that’s the case, then swearing is a matter of respect or lack thereof.  Start treating all people with a higher degree of respect.
  • Reflect on your Failures.  When you fail, replay that failure in your mind.  What could you have done better?  How could you have avoided your failure?  What would have been a better way to respond?  Don’t allow your failures to go unchallenged in your mind.  Failing to think is what got you into trouble in the first place.
  • Celebrate Your Victories.  Make a mental note every time you resist the temptation to curse.  Take note of your spiritual development and discipline.  Thank God for his patience and pray for continued strength and wisdom. See it as a victory and “ride the tide” of your success.
  • Become More Sensitive to foul language.  Stop watching and listening to shows and music that are littered with it.  The more you hear it, the more you become desensitized to it.  Be proactive, and remove yourself from it by turning the channel and maybe even changing your friends.

Habits are hard to break, whether they’re good or bad.  But they can be broken.  Accept the challenge.  Don’t be content with anything less than purity in speech.  Do hard things!

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3 comments

  1. Michael Summers

    Thank you, Steve. The need many people have to use obscenities and profanity has bewildered me throughout my life. In the military, I have seen soldiers who laced every sentence with cursing, but I also have seen many who responded to a leaders profanity by ignoring him or her.

  2. Profanity

    This article raises another interesting idea for me about our use of words. Terms like “curse” and “swear” initially had different connotations. “Cursing” meaning that some sort of affliction was being envied, while “swearing” dealt with allegiance and oaths.

    What makes a particular word a bad one? We use the word Hell on a regular basis, but in this instance, you didn’t feel comfortable spelling out the word. Why is that?

    It seems to me that words are simply words until we provide a social context for them. Bad words aren’t bad in other languages, for instance. There’s no Biblical list of bad words.

    I don’t have any answers here, but I just thought it was interesting that we Christians assume certain words from our culture are not for a believer’s speech.

  3. Steve Higginbotham

    Hello Anonymous :-),
    You asked me what makes a particular word a bad one. Well, two things that I can think of. One is the definition of the word itself. The other is the value culture places on a word. Thus some words may be “bad” words in one culture and acceptable in another.

    You also asked me why I didn’t type out the word in my title. Two reasons. One is courtesy. Use in this sense, the word Hell is offensive. I was trying to communicate what was said while trying not to offend the sensitivities of those who are reading. I, myself, have frequently been disappointed in people as they repeat a story with a swear word in it, and then say, “That’s what they said, not me. I’m just repeating it.” And second, I am also aware that certain words used in certain ways are filtered out by some people’s mail and internet filters.

    Hope that explains.

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