When did the expression, “Oh, my God!” change from a statement uttered in the context of prayer to a flippant expression of surprise and excitement?
I suppose that since the advent of spoken language people have been irreverent in their speech, but it seems the irreverence is more pervasive in these days. Profanity, guttural speech (literally, “of the gutter”), and offensive expressions are commonplace: they are heard constantly in the media, at the worksite, in school halls, on sports fields, and in the home.
I sat in a booth at Denny’s yesterday, and overheard the most profanity-laced conversation I had ever heard in public. The four participants in the conversation were clean-cut, professional-looking, two young men, and two ladies. Yet, every-other word uttered was a four-letter invective or an irreverent utterance of God’s name. The words were not spoken in anger, but were accompanied by laughter and spoken in calm tones. Sadly, such language had become commonplace for those speaking them.
The apostle Paul comments on our speech. In Ephesians 4.29, he writes, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (NRSV).
Paul is saying that our ability to communicate can be used in one of two ways. We can use our speech for destructive and shameful purposes — the term Paul uses for “evil talk” suggests anything that is foul, abusive, or ungodly. Or, we can use our speech constructively and to offer a blessing to those who hear.
As you speak, consider this: who has the biggest ears of all? Remember, the One above is always listening!