Our current letter series “Wise Practices” aims to share practical knowledge and wisdom to help us grow as doers of the word. Each letter will share applied methods and answer a ‘how.’ These practices are not perfect or comprehensive. They are personal testimonies; shared knowledge and wisdom gained through pursuit and service that helped facilitate growth in our lives. We pray they help you grow as well.
How do you put away obscene talk?
The faithful put away obscene talk, and the wise guard their speech. Consider the following:
- Proverbs 4:24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
- Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
- James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
- James 3:5–12  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
- Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
- Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
- Colossians 3:8–9  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
The Bible is clear. We are called to put away obscene talk. What is less obvious is how to actually do this. Sure, we stop, but that’s easier said than done. Here are a few wise practices that have helped me take steps to put away obscene talk and guard my speech.
Something as simple as post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, car dashboard, and cell phone wallpapers with verses such as the above remind me that my speech is important and set apart for worship.
When I’m actively praying for others throughout the day, I’m much less likely to speak in a way that is not edifying. So much so, I’ve seen a direct connection between my prayer life and my speech. We’ve heard of idle hands– well, the same is true for an idle tongue. Pray without ceasing and your speech will change.
Our speech quickly becomes habitual. Almost like an accent, our words become unintentional and unnoticed reactions. Therefore, self-awareness can be challenging. When I was serious about taking steps to put away obscene talk and guard my speech, I shared my goal with others. I asked them to listen, observe, and help me identify things I needed to purge from my speech.
When you speak obscenely or in a way that is not edifying, confess your sin and ask for forgiveness. It’s like forgetting the same person’s name ten times. After a certain point, you begin to purpose to not do that again. Confessing helped bring a sense of seriousness and urgency to my pursuit of faithfulness.
Our speech has an ultimate purpose: to worship Jesus! It is one thing to replace “bad words” with “Christian bad words,” but it is another to replace obscene talk with edifying talk. Set clear, daily goals for building up others into Christlikeness. TCBC’s Discipleship Process helps me focus on this. Observe!
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
Elder / Pastor of Teaching and Vision
Daniel Broyles has served as the Leadership Pastor and Elder at Tri-Cities Baptist Church since 2012. He is married to his wife Amy and they have a daughter named Lena.