“Coarse and foolish talking are not suitable” Ephesians 5:4
Greg came home early to pack for his favorite twice-yearly Men’s Fellowship gathering at Camp Angelus above the San Joaquin Valley. Away from the wilting heat, smog and everyday life, nearly 500 Christian men gathered to sing, pray, learn, share and be changed by a desire to serve God with all their hearts.
By dinner, most of the men had checked in, found their room assignments and changed into comfortable clothes. They headed for the dining room to find a dazzling spread of snacks to satisfy their light hunger and prepare them for the evening’ speaker, Dan Wilson.
Dan was a young pastor of an impressive church with more than 3,500 in attendance. He was fast becoming well-known among pastors and book readers. His first book, Jesus Broke the Rules was selling quickly, even though some thought the cover art of a muscular Christ, punching gigantic pillars into rubble seemed rather worldly and crude as though Jesus used his powerful physique to accomplish his examples.
Within seconds, the wood-paneled conference room was filled with men laughing uproariously, tears running down their cheeks. Dan was charismatic and excelled with comedic illustrations. Just before he finished, Dan managed to slip in a prayer and send the men on their way, recalling some of their favorite stories.
At one of the tables, four men were still smiling, except for Steve. “That guy was fantastic,” Bill said. “His stories about wives and husbands hit the nail right on the head. But I’m not sure my wife would appreciate the humor as much as we did. But that’s the difference between men and women, right?”
As the others were nodding heads in agreement Steve said, “Are you sure we should have been laughing? At first I thought he was funny too but then I was convicted by the Holy Spirit and I think most of his stories were crude and foolish. I don’t think we would have been laughing so hard if Jesus had appeared.”
Silence at the table. Steve knew they were upset so he left the table, headed for a walk to clear up his mind and talk with the Lord. This was a first for him. Before tonight, he would have been laughing just as hard as everyone else. God was changing him and he wanted the change. Allowing himself to become crude and foolish for the sake of getting a laugh paled in comparison to walking closer with the Lord.
o Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
o Ephesians 5:4 Dirty stories, foul talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, remind each other of God’s goodness, and be thankful.
o 2 Timothy 2:15-16 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.
o 1 Timothy 6:20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.
o Matthew 12:34-37 You serpent’s brood, how can you say anything good out of your evil hearts? For a man’s words depend on what fills his heart. A good man gives out good—from the goodness stored in his heart; a bad man gives out evil—from his store of evil. I tell you that men will have to answer at the day of judgment for every careless word they utter—for it is your words that will acquit you, and your words that will condemn you.
o Colossians 3:8 But now you must get rid of all these things: anger, passion, and hateful feelings. No insults or obscene talk must ever come from your lips. Do not lie to one another, for you have put off the old self with its habits.
o Colossians 4:6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Our words can harm, hurt, divide and create sinful images in the mind. But God’s word is always pure and precise. If we choose to use each other as examples or measuring sticks, then our words will ultimately do harm. But when we choose to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance then our words will represent God, bringing healing and comfort to all who hear.