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Vantage Point

The Antidote for Verbal Poison

I recently got away to a little place I favor for its beauty and relative solitude as much as for the fishing I do there.

But the tranquility was soon shattered when a group of families arrived and pitched a tent in a clearing on the other side of the small river. What ensued was a peace-shattering, profanity-filled verbal explosion.

One particular individual was the worst offender, releasing a continuous stream of loud utterances so vulgar they would probably be censored on cable television. There were several toddler- to elementary-age children present.

And the person venting this verbal poison?

It wasn’t a burly, disheveled oaf of a man. It was a young mother with three small children. They heard all of this. Some of it was even directed at them.

The Bible confirms that the tongue is “full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:8-10, NIV; see Matthew 15:11).

I thought of this as I unwillingly listened to this mother shout obscenities at her children. And I thought how the poison being poured into these young lives was damaging them — and might eventually produce carbon copies of their mom.

The Bible says, “This should not be.”

Of course, the prime solution to this is salvation. But even many Christians have let the culture negatively influence the way they speak. (The James passage above was written to Christian Jews.)

If a believer’s words are degenerating, the Word is the solution. More time reading and thinking about God’s Word will positively influence anyone’s verbiage. “Set your hearts on things above,” Paul said, and “rid yourselves of … filthy language” (Colossians 3:1,8).

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NASB).

Ken Horn

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