Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4 NIV
I used to lie a lot when I was younger. I coated it with palatable language, like I was just kidding, it was a joke, I didn’t intend any harm, or no one was hurt by the comment. At a convention in high school, I gave “made up directions” to other students wandering around the hotel center. I was being helpful, but untrue. Some of my classmates still remember how I lied to those other kids on that trip.
At one point in my Christian journey, I experienced deliverance counseling in which I was set free from a spirit of lying, among other things, that was influencing me. Two things happened after that deliverance of many years ago. One, I gained a higher sensitivity to listening to the Holy Spirit talk with me, and I with Him. The second thing was a keen awareness that I could no longer go down a path or pattern of lying any longer. My tongue was given to speak life.
In this verse, Paul uses 3 examples of improper speech that should not identify a Christian. In the context of the verse, he is defining how the nature of a Christian has totally changed the very fabric of their existence. The difference is as far as the distance between light and darkness. Speech, the words we use in all of our talking, should reflect this fundamental change.
Obscenity is aischrotēs which means filthiness or indecency. This is more than eliminating cuss words or cursing. Guys this would include all improper sexual jokes or comments about women. Racial slurs would fit into this category. As I tell my children on the bus, remember what Thumper repeated to his mother in the movie Bambi, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Foolish talk is mōrologia. You can see the root word “moron”. The word “moros’ actually means “dull, without an edge” and “lego” is “speaking to a conclusion.” Speaking words without any discernment of its properness or its intention, is foolish talk.
Gossip would lean heavily into foolish talking. The one who gossips is making judgment and assumptions about others that is full of impartial truths. Gossiping is giving words of criticism, accusations, judgements and hurt to our enemy for him to use to keep harassing the one you are talking about. Gossipping lacks the filter of speaking what is honorable and true.
Coarse joking is eutrapelia. Eu means good and trop means ready and witty. In this context it includes the negative side of wit that is hurtful or low in jesting. This is the type of talk that exemplified my lies. Very quick wit that lead to mistrust for others.
Out of place is anēken. It is two words meaning “coming up” to an “expected place of expectation”. The Christian has a higher standard that we are expected to adhere to. Specifically our speech should sound different and be life giving in context.
Thanksgiving is eucharistia. It means thankfulness with a specific bent towards being thankful for God’s grace. The aroma of a Christians speech should sound like thankfulness. Complaining and judging are not becoming for the Christians choice of vocabulary.
Make a challenge for yourself over the holidays. Let your words bring healing and life to those you spend time with. Let forgiveness flow easily from your lips. Choose words like, “I’m sorry” and “will you forgive me”.
Ask God to help you listen and look for the needs in the hearts of others. Make a list of 20 thankful experiences that you can use to guide conversations toward goodness. Let joy guide your conversations and all will be thankful for having been together.
Let you Monday Mantra flow into your holiday season. Thanksgiving is a holiday in America. May you make each day “holy” with the fullness of Thanksgiving flowing from your own lips. Thankfulness leads to a constant attitudes of gratitude.
Blessings Love y’all