Wednesday, March 31, 2021

6D-Foolish Talk: Bible Survival


The Big Idea: The tendency toward foolish, argumentative or brash talk is not useful nor pleasing to God. 

What's swearing and what's not?

My father, a sailor in the Navy, came to a personal relationship with Jesus during his service. It changed his life completely. Swearing and vulgar talk was out. We had a children's book with the word "Golly!" My father blackened in "Golly" and wrote above it, "Boy-oh-Boy." He explained that "Golly" really is a light way to swear for "God", treating God's name casually in anger or frustration. Not taking the Lord's name in vain was one of the ten commandments. I learned it is never acceptable to swear using God's name or some derivative of it.

In Junior High, the gils in my youth group were mentored one summer on the practical Christian life by a 17 year old.  She was beautiful and popular at school. She sang in the school musicals, had a boyfriend and really loved God. It was always fun yet thought provoking. She was approachable and no topic was off limits.

When the senior high mentor reminded us that no question was off limits. I felt smug as I said, "I know we should not take the Lord's name in vain because of one of the ten commandments. But what's wrong with saying a word like "s**t" which has nothing to do with God or anything spiritual?"

"I would say it is not very ladylike to say that, and does not reflect the people of God we should be," she mused.

How quickly she answered with such wisdom!

Lots to say about our speech

The volume of which the Bible advises us on our speech and how we treat people is impressive. My husband recently pointed out at a Bible study that "humble and gentle" is the only description Jesus ever made about Himself. Jesus shows us how to treat people.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 NIV


We do not reflect God's character with foolish talk and discussions. It can damage our Christian walk. The volume of verses shows this is a serious subject. The topic is temptation: temptation to argue and waste time foolishly. Satan cajoles and dupes us into thinking what we say isn't a big deal. But it is a big deal.

The devil… was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Proverbs 4: 24-25

Gentle speech and kind words

There are quite a few places where the Bible talks about speaking gently and using kind words. It is mentioned in the Old Testament, especially in Proverbs. Jesus encourages kindness and models it. In the epistles of the New Testament a gentle, humble, and kind manner is a mark of a true Christian.

Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4 NIV

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James 3:17 NIV

Avoid foolish arguments and foolish discussion

One does not hear a lot of sermons about the problem with foolish discussion and an argumentative spirit. We don't talk much in the church about divisive conversations. Satan loves to divide us, have us hurt each other's feelings and get away from the main thing. The main thing is Jesus. The main thing is showing love for one another in Jesus' name.

Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. I Timothy 6:20 NIV

When was the last time you read an article or devotional about how damaging it is to our spiritual walk to spend time in conversation about worthless subjects that are not edifying to God? Yes, we build relationships with people and want to get to know them better. But do they influence us or are having an impact on them? And what about the time we spend talking about nothing (does this sound like Seinfeld?).

Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 2 Timothy 2:16 NIV

Finally, there is the position of our thought life. You are indeed what you think. If you think constantly of trivial, foolish things that have nothing to do with our Heavenly Father and the Kingdom of God, your heart is being wooed by foolish trivial things. We don't need to think 24/7 about God. Sometimes we do meal planning, problem solving, or just relaxing. How much of our time and thought life is frivolously spent in nothingness? I am not being preachy. I am talking to myself too. I am an intensely focused person. I have spent hours lost in time in Suduko puzzles or a photography project. There is a difference between relaxing for a little while and getting so absorbed hours for days on end get wasted.

There are many more verses than these about foolish talk.

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts…   Matthew 11: 18-19 NIV

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. Ephesians 5:4 NIV


Don't get caught up with empty philosophies, nonsense

There can be a lot of time spent in argument about "spiritual" things and ideas. Sometimes people like to hear themselves talk and want to have attention on themselves.  They also seem to get a certain energy and excitement from debates and even conflict. The New Living Translation, which I often use for this blog, calls it in I Timothy 4:6 "an unhealthy desire to quibble."

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. I Corinthians 2:14 NIV

Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8 NIV

Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. I Timothy 6:4 NIV

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. Jude 17-19 NIV

It is good to discuss the hard questions of the faith. It is good to dig into the Word of God with serious intent to understand. In the Old Testament Jeremiah said false prophets were speaking in God's name to push their own ideas. He said the question is "What is the Lord saying?"  The focus is on God, not ideas. This comes by prayer and a humble learning spirit to focus on God and to seek out His Word.

You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the Lord’s answer?’ or ‘What is the Lord saying?’ But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the Lord.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Jeremiah 23:35-36 NIV


God's weapons against arguments and false reasoning

We will have a lot of people both outside the church, and even in the church context, who will argue with us about truth. We need to be united as believers with love. But more than that, we need to know God, and know Jesus. We do this especially through the Word of God.

Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. Isaiah 8:20 NIV

We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. Colossians 2: 2-4 NIV


A final word of encouragement

Can we survive the onslaught of arguments from those who are trying to trip us up in our faith? Can we steer away from foolish chatter and empty thoughts? How can we keep focused when Satan tries to distract us from truly following God? We survive by Scripture.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:2,5-6 NIV


Up Next: Powerful Scripture

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1. Do you see foolish discussions as a bad temptation in the Christian life? Why or why not?

2. What area of foolish talk is a challenge for you? Is it wasting time with nonsense? Enjoying an argument? Getting sucked in to exploring odd ideas about God?

3. Do you see a verse above that would be a great constant reminder for you? Memorize it or make it into a bookmark or screen saver.