I’ve had a good time the last few days diving deeply into Colossians Chapter 3 in preparation for the Men’s Group Monday Night. I’m comparing the old life to what the chapter calls new life or real life in Christ. The passage lists five vices to put off and five virtues to put on.
I was reading in the New Living Translation but also had a bunch of other resources to dig into the real meaning of the Greek words behind the English text. Colossians 3:7-9 says, You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.
As I read this passage and saw the nature of the other behaviors, dirty language, didn’t seem to fit. So, I got out the tools and delved into the real meaning of the Greek on this. The word is only used one time in the Bible and it is right here in this passage. It actually comes from a compound word the first portion means abusive and the second part words. Abusive words seem to fit the passage better because all the other things he says to put off are basically hurtful behaviors toward others. Ephesians 4:29 would support this idea. Don’t use corrupt speech but use speech that builds others. Corrupt speech is talking in a way that hurts or tears down others.
My conclusion is God is not overly concerned with vocabulary, He is not hooked on phonics, but is very concerned about our intent. Are we speaking to hurt, abuse, shame, put down others, or is our talk intended to speak life into others?
All my life, Christians have been more concerned about vocabulary rather than intent. I had Sunday School teachers tell us as children words that were off-limits because they were close to cuss words. We were taught don’t say gee whiz, heck, hell, damn or s**t. But the same good church people will gossip and slander people all day long! From my study of Scripture, I’m convinced God is far more concerned with the latter and could care less about the former.
God does however, take very seriously using His name in empty ways, using His name in any detrimental way causes God great offence. The reason is His name represents His character and every good thing about Him. So, again, it is the intent of your heart in the use of God’s name that matters. Glorifying Him or deriding Him determines whether the use of His name is profound or profane.