“Do You Hear What I Hear?”

by Paula Schnittger

Walking through the hall at an evangelical seminary several years ago, my husband heard a young lady talking. He was amazed that her speech contained a variation of the f-word without any hesitation on her part. That stayed with me for years afterward and just the other day, I was reminded of the incident.

What has happened to the content of the speech of Christians? There’s a coarseness that has crept into our everyday lives. Vance Havner, a great evangelist of a bygone era, had a sermon that I heard years ago that was entitled, “Getting Used to the Dark.” There are many things that we as Christians have gotten used to that no longer bother us like they should. From speech to actions to friendships, we have gotten used to the “dark” around us and no longer stand out. Oh, we may not be just like the barhopping, anti-Christian crowd, but we do not stand out in areas that we should. Someone listening to us talk might not have any idea that the Lord God is precious to us because of how we use His name. They may not know that we are convinced that hell is a very real, eternal place of judgment that only God can condemn a person to because of the careless way we use that word.

George Washington, at age 16, wrote out The Rules for Civility and Decent Behavior. Granted, many of the things referred to are not major today but when you look at what was considered “civil” years ago, you realize how far our society has slipped.

Rule # 59 states, “Never express anything unbecoming, nor act against the rules of morality before your inferiors.” People used to think about what they said before they said it and who they said it to. Rule # 108 states, “When you speak of God or His attributes let it be seriously and with reverence.” Do we? Some movies seem to delight in the number of four-letter words they can squeeze into every minute. As we’ve all heard, “garbage in – garbage out.” If you are surrounding yourself with those who speak that way, eventually it will be easy for you to speak that way. There are even websites that will “assist” you to talk “dirty”!  Then there is the whole area of coarseness that relates to “bathroom” talk. Some use vulgar forms of excrement that are spoken in anger would shock earlier generations of Christians.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  Do you hear what I hear?  If so, may I challenge you to clean up your speech? It starts with observation and the cure is available through the Holy Spirit! Don’t get used to the dark!