By Alex Florez
The way I talked before I got to know Jesus would have made a standup comic blush. I didn’t even think of bad words as “bad.” I relished letting foul language fly out of my mouth, especially when I was young and most kids hadn’t yet begun to employ such scandalous language. I’m not proud to say that I was the kid most of us would warn our children to avoid.
But here I am, in my forties. I have this “new self” (Colossians 3:10), who is encouraged not to employ “filthy language” (v.8). The Lord has taught me in gentle increments that everything about my life belongs to Him, from my actions to the words I speak.
The things that insidiously used to motivate me (v.5) produced earthly fruit, things like “anger, wrath, malice, and slander,” to name a few (v.8). I used bad words because of their illusory power and because they aptly complimented the profane things my wayward heart was after.
This is not to say that as a Christian I have become a paragon of puritanical modesty. I’ll confess that my children didn’t hear their first “bad words” from an inappropriate movie or the “bad kid” at school; they heard them from me, their father, the man of unclean lips that I am. I’m no angel, as it were, but I am a different creature. I’m a follower of Jesus. Now, the words that I speak matter in a way that they didn’t before.
Cleaning up my language will not earn me my salvation. Merely refraining from ungodly behavior is not going to win God’s favor. His favor already rests upon me because Jesus purchased my life with His blood. Now, I am like a “tree planted beside” the living water of Christ Himself (Psalm 1:3).
In my former life, I settled for profane impurities that promised much but offered little. Those earthly passions merely stoked a “desire for more and more” of the same ersatz satisfaction (Ephesians 4:19). If you feed a stray dog, it’ll never go away.
Thank God for the renewed mind with which I now see and interact with the world. Knowing and trusting that God loves me turns my eyes heavenward. “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). And what I see there is glorious; it inspires me to look at Him and learn everything I can about this Savior who calls me His own.