By Vickie Dowell

You can learn a lot about people when you listen to them talk. Our words reveal what our minds think "&ldots;for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh " Matt. 12:34b. We communicate our thoughts through language. When we speak, we divulge our feelings to others. Although the old saying, "A picture's worth a thousand words," may have veracity, it is still WORDS that we use to express ourselves.

I personally strive for correctness in my speech. I try to convey my accurate views when I talk. Although I seek to refrain my tongue in many situations ("A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. " Prov. 29:11, "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. " Prov. 17:28), 1 generally try to say what I mean and mean what I say. It is never my intention to hurt anyone with my words, as I aim to "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15).

All that said, I've come to the subject of my article. It is "CARELESS WORDS." Hopefully, none of us saints have the problem of cursing; although, depending upon your lifestyle B.C. (before Christ), some of us may have an occasional occurance when angry. ("Be ye angry, and sin not: " Eph. 4:26a, "But now ye also put off all these; anger wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. " Col. 3:8)

But will you examine your speech regarding "SLANG WORDS?" Do you think anything of hearing or saying, "Darn it!" or "Oh, my gosh!" or "Gosh darn!"? "What the heck!" These terms are simply substitutes for you-know-what. Are they then pure? Is it "above reproach" to use them? Has the scripture in Eph. 4:29 ("Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. ") had an effect on your words? Does Col. 4:6a ("Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt"), change the way you talk ?

I hope you’ve never told anyone, "If you do that again, I’ll KILL you!" Would you? Should you say you would? How about, "I could have just died"? Do you say you're "starving to death" when really you're just very hungry? Should you speak of death in such a flippant manner? "Oh, I hate her! She makes me sick." Shouldn't you rather have pity and compassion on someone held in the cords of sin?

Surely, you are not guilty of taking the Lord's holy name in vain. That is, using it in a futile, empty way. Or saying His matchless name in a worthless manner, having no real value. "Oh, my Lord!" "My God,.." Are these phrases in your vocabulary? Exodus 20:7 tells us God's law about His name. Though we're not under the penalty and judgment of the law, it would behoove us to be respectful of how we speak our Saviour's name.

Many times our children have heard me sing the song, "0, be careful, little mouth, what you say ....." They have also, to my sorrow and theirs, heard me offend with my mouth. And they have seen me apologize and admit that I am never right when I say things I shouldn't say. I have no excuse for not controlling my mouth, regardless of what others do to provoke me. I have the fruit of the Spirit (self-control), and need but to apply it to my lips. As I fill my mind with the Word of God, I know the Holy Spirit will use the scriptures to remind me that a virtuous woman "openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness " Prov. 31:26. I want Prov. 31:28 ("Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her") to be truthfully said of me. I make constant assessment of the words I say and how I speak them. Are they honest and sincere? Are they polite and respectful of others? Do they edify and encourage? I admit I often fail, but it is my goal. May God grant my prayer and "Set a watch, 0 Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips " Psa. 141:3. It is my desire to "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer " Psa. 19:14. Will you make "careful words" your desire, too?