By JoJo Tabares
“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5:4 KJV
It’s just a joke, right? Just some harmless fun to add a little levity to an otherwise dull day. Well, a joke isn’t just a joke if the joke is on you. Harmless teasing isn’t harmless when it hurts the other person’s feelings. Have you ever been on the receiving end of a joke meant to ridicule for the sole purpose of entertainment. I’ll bet you weren’t entertained. There are words of wisdom in the above scripture that teach us to walk in the light of Christ and set the Christian example regardless of worldly fads or customs. Let’s look at this scripture more closely.
When I was young kidling (yes all those years ago), you never heard foul language in public, especially not in front of women and children. Today, it is commonplace. Few so much as bat an eyelash at its use on primetime TV. This first part of this scripture warns us not to engage in this kind of communication. Is it just because we will be seen as rude or inappropriate? No. If you read the scriptures just prior to and just after this one, you’ll see the reasons.
Part of Ephesians 5:3 states, “let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;” indicating that it as Christians we are to behave in a way that is becoming of God’s children. In Ephesians 5:6-7, ” for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” the Lord tells us that we are, in fact, disobedient if we do. Further, in Ephesians 5:8-10, “walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” we see that we are to be examples to others who would see Christ reflected in us.
From just the first two words of this scripture, we see that, when we speak words of filthiness, we are not becoming of God’s children, we are in disobedience and reflect an inaccurate picture to unbelievers of what a Christian should be. We also disappoint, disobey and distort the character of God when we engage in foolish talking. Dale Carnegie said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” The Bible talks a great deal about foolish talk.
Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.” Proverbs 18:7 says, “A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” The Lord tells us that foolish talk inhibits our ability to understand and that it will do us damage in our lives.
The next few words of this scripture tell us something even more. While most Christians understand the need to refrain from obscenities and speaking foolishness, they don’t always appreciate the destructive power of jesting. Why? It’s popular. It has the potential to make you popular. It gets you noticed and creates respect for your comedic or intellectual talents. As someone who loves to make people laugh, in the back of my mind, I’m conscious of my experiences in grade school where I learned how devastating it can be to be made the fool.
Before I speak, I ask myself these questions:
1. Is what I’m about to say honoring to God?
2. Is what I’m about to say honoring to the person it is about?
3. Is what I’m about to say self-serving?
4. Is what I’m about to say destructive to someone else?
5. Does what I’m about to say serve a higher purpose?
Other versions of scripture state the next part, “which are not convenient” as “which are not befitting” or “which are not fitting or becoming.” Again, this is not becoming of Christ’s children. The Message Bible translates the part of this scripture as, “those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that.” This gives us more insight into the meaning of this scripture. Language and communication are a gift, given to us for many reasons. Christians have better things to do with this gift than to use it for filthiness, foolishness and jesting which are not becoming of God’s children.
Lastly, we see one of the main reasons God gives us a voice. He wants us to give thanks, to worship, to lift up, to reflect Christ in all we do and say. So we see that this one little scripture holds a wealth of teaching for us today about how we should use the gift of speech the Lord has given us.
JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication. Her Christian and humorous approach to communication skills has made her a sought after speaker. JoJo’s articles have appeared in various homeschool magazines and websites such as Dr. Laura.com. Her Say What You Mean curricula is endorsed by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and her eBook, Say What You Mean When You’re in Business, has been used by direct sales leaders and small business owners alike. For more information, please visit http://www.ArtofEloquence.com
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