“Let the words of my mouth...be acceptable in Your sight” (Psalm 19:14).
There are many differences between mankind and the rest of Creation. One of the primary differences is our ability to communicate through words and sentences that express thoughts. Yes, I know, animals communicate through various means, and yes, I have read that some monkeys can speak a word or two, but they cannot communicate as man does. It is not even close. The Creator has only given mankind the ability to communicate with one another through words, and this is just one of the vast differences between mankind and the rest of Creation. James implies that our ability to speak is one more aspect we are made in His image (James 3:9). The ability to speak and communicate is a great and glorious gift that our God has given to us, and accordingly, we, especially as the Lord’s people, have a great responsibility to use our words and tongues in a manner that is acceptable in His sight as the verse listed at the beginning of this article teaches.
As in everything the Lord has given to us, we need to be disciplined and in control of the words we use for they can be used for both good or evil. In this way, our tongues are a great dichotomy. James writes of this in the third chapter, verses 9-12. He writes (words by the way) of how with our tongues (using words) we have the ability to glorify our Father. But we also have the ability to speak curses to men out of the same mouth!
Now, I wish to make it clear that I am NOT writing as if I have learned to control my own tongue as well as I would like. For I certainly have not, which is in line with what James wrote in 3:8. I continue to say words that are indeed not acceptable to the Lord. This is an issue that most of us have trouble with. However, it is an issue we all must continue to work on. Our tongues are often indeed an “unruly evil” and full of “deadly poison.”
Consider some of the many ways we can use our tongues for good. We can speak about God to others. We can speak of the most glorious message in the world ever given to man of how our God sent His Son to die for mankind, and that through His gospel mankind can be saved! And these words include the many sub-categories that we can speak in regard to His kingdom. For instance what greater way to use our tongues than to praise His name? Or to speak of His wondrous works? The apostle Paul speaks of such uses in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Do the words we use impart grace to the hearers? If so, God is pleased. The good we can do with our words can be one of the most glorious and godly activities that we are capable of!
However, due to the dichotomy of our tongues, we can use words to speak evil of and to one another. Indeed, these type of words are part of what the apostle wrote of as “corrupt words.” We can curse other men and women with these same tongues. We can take the Lord’s name in vain that we claim to love and honor. It is probably fair to note that most of you reading this article would never take His name in vain as much of the world does by directly or clearly using the Lord’s name as a curse or other ungodly manner. However, there are many words in the English language that are “pseudo” (or substitute) ways to use His name. They may sound nicer and gentler to the ears of man, but they really are just another form of taking the Lord’s name in vain. I believe these are also examples of “corrupt words.” We need to keep in mind that words have meanings, especially names in regard to the Lord. I do not think I need to give you a detailed listing of such words, for I am confident you know them. And the interesting thing is that most of the world also knows these words, and when they are used by Christians, the lessons they are taught by the use of such words are not good. The result is that God is not glorified.
It is my conviction that there are only a few areas in which using the Lord’s name is appropriate. They can be used when praising, teaching, blessing or praying. I cannot think of any other times when it is appropriate to use His names. When we are using His names while speaking of these things, that is glorious and right. Certainly, not as curses or even idly. It has been my observation in myself and others that often some use His name out of habit. We need to bear in mind the Lord’s admonition in Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." These are serious words to consider in regard to how we speak, even idle words.
We also can speak lies and gossip of and to our fellow-man not to mention of and to our brothers and sisters whom we claim to love. And the damage we can cause can leave horrible scars and wounds that may never heal. And they certainly do not glorify the Lord, nor do they help unbelievers turn to Him. Actually, they do just the opposite, for they can cause those who may be skeptical to be driven even farther away from the Lord and His Truths.
With these thoughts in mind, what a grave responsibility our Creator has bestowed upon us, and even more so as His people. Therefore, we must take great care as to the words we use. As the psalmist pleads for in the verse at the beginning of this article, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). What a glorious goal for all our lives!
Think about the words we use. Are they acceptable in His sight? Do they glorify His name to the world? Are they edifying to our brothers and sisters? Do they help others think more positively about the Lord and His Word? If not, they are not acceptable to our Lord and neither are we.