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  • Shawn Thornton

Better Than Soap

Sunday - May 17th

Today's Scripture to Read: James 3:6-8 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...

Ephesians 4:29

Was it just me, or does every boy right around age 11 or 12 decide they are man enough to start using foul language? My friends in school seemed to all adopt a whole lot of four-letter words at about the same time. And we were in a Christian School.

When we were in the restroom or a remote area of the school playground during recess, we would let them rip. I'm not sure we knew what all of those words meant - of course, that could have just been me. God began to get a hold of my young life during my 7th-grade year of school, and with a switch to a new Christian school for 8th grade, I decided now was the time to break free.

That summer, before I started in the new school, God moved in my heart. He did it during a 20-25 minute walk to a friend's house. I was walking along the roadside, staring at the gravel when it hit me. Looking back, I can clearly say now that it was the Holy Spirit convicting me. The friend I would be spending the better part of the day with cussed up a storm. He liked to drop four-letter words in between every other word. 

To this day, I can see that gravel in my mind's eye along the side of U.S. 331 or as people in Mishawaka, Indiana, call it, Bremen Highway. There was nothing unusual about that gravel - common Indiana Highway Department issue of roadside gravel. But, while looking at those rocks, I told God that no matter what, I would never use four-letter words again. I had committed my Christian walk to Him during the previous school year. Now, the Spirit was telling me, the time had come to clean up my mouth. 

I confessed and repented of my sin right there, walking along 331. Well, I did it with the simplicity of a 7th-grade kid. But, God honored that commitment, and to this day, I don't use those words. It doesn't make me more spiritual than those who slip up and do, but it is what the Holy Spirit wanted from me at that point in my life. He knew my foul mouth needed a good cleaning. Nana, my mom's mom, often threatened to wash out the mouths of any family member who used four-letter words. A few of my relatives have told me about the times she did. When the Holy Spirit does it, it's better because His work is pretty comprehensive.

My mouth still can get me in heaps of trouble without even dropping in four-letter words. I am a work in progress like any other follower of Jesus this side of Heaven. James 3:6-8 describes the power of the tongue. It can hurt others, and it can get us into a whole lot of trouble. Ephesians 4:29 emphasizes more than just what words we should avoid. It emphasizes that our words should be healthy for others and build them up. 

How about you? Does your mouth get you in trouble? Are you using words you know should not be a part of your life as a Christ-follower? If you answered in the affirmative for either of those last two questions, confess to God what your mouth isn't what it should be. Repent of it. Change direction. Leave bad language and hurtful speech behind. Learn to use words that bring life and encouragement to others!

The convicting, correcting, and transforming work of the Holy Spirit works much better than soap! Let God use your words to build up rather than tear down others!


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