Look up swear in a good
dictionary. The swearing we are going
to discuss is not “cursing” or “curses”, it has to do with making
affirmations. Also look up oath. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus refers to the common
practice of taking oaths or swearing as a means of verifying one’s words as
being true by appealing to sacred persons or things as proof of honesty. Read Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21 and Ecclesiastes 5:2-5. As you can see from these passages, oaths
were very common among the Jews in the Old Testament. Were they encouraged to make many vows? Were they encouraged to delay fulfilling a vow or promise? Read Exodus 20:7.
What does this passage teach in light of vow-making? Is it forbidden to use God’s name, or to
misuse it? Read Leviticus 19:12; Deuteronomy
19:16-19 and Zechariah 8:17.
How does the Lord feel about lying, misrepresenting yourself or
appearing to be something or someone you are not? Are we only to be truthful when we are “sworn in” (making an
oath)? Should a Christian’s speech be
reliable and trustworthy only in the form of a legal contract or vow? Should we
need to swear to affirm the validity of what we say?
Do you usually fly off the
handle when you perceive lack of trust?
Are you into giving people the benefit of the doubt? Read Proverbs 29:11.
Detail how it could be possible for a person training in righteousness
to be fully in control of a situation while a foolish person is totally loosing
it. Does the foolish person think about
himself or about the other person’s situation?
Does the wise man put himself in the other person’s shoes or does he
think about how he was wronged or how he lost out? Read Ecclesiastes 5:1-3. Contrast the wise man and the fool in this passage. Can you really trust or rely on those who
talk a good game? If you talk more than
you walk, what can you do to correct that?
10:19-21. What happens when
you talk too much? Read James 1:19.
What should you be quick to do in any situation? What should you be slow to do? If you’re quick to vent your anger or
frustrations, where does that leave you in light of these passages? Is it possible for you to be quick to make a
vow that you will later regret, or perhaps a promise you cannot keep, if you
are in this state of mind? Maybe that’s
why we usually wait until someone is in good spirits to get their approval on
something, right? We know that emotions
can sometimes affect our “honesty”.
Should this be? Meditate on Proverbs 12:17-19, 22.
What is your word worth to
others? Can other’s count on you? Do you deliver? What value can you offer in a
relationship? Read Proverbs 10:20, 21. Do others consider your tongue “silver”? What do you think the writer of this proverb
means by that? Are your lips
nourishing? Read Proverbs 16:23, 24; 25:11-15; 29:11. From these verses prepare a list with two
columns. In one column write down the
attributes of the “silver” tongue. In
the other column write down the opposite of these characteristics, and label
that column, the “rotten” tongue. Read James 3:1-12. To what two things is the tongue (speech)
compared to in verses 3 and 4?
Can you think why James uses these two analogies when illustrating the
power of speech? Has your tongue ever
gotten you in trouble? Has it made some
great boast that has left you stinging, like with a fire (verse 5)? Would you dare
curse God? Why then do you dare curse
those made in His image (verse 9)? Isn’t that boasting? What about cursing? Do you still have a problem controlling your
cursing tongue? Does offensive speech
or cursing necessitate foul language (curse words)? Just because you don’t use “curse words” doesn’t mean your speech
is pure! Be careful! God judges your
motives and your attitudes (Hebrews 4:12, 13)! Snide remarks, spiteful speech
and coarse joking is offensive speech.
Part of controlling your
speech and purifying your character has to do with being able to say what you
mean and mean what you say when you are asked to do or be something. Can you
say “yes” or “no”, or do you find yourself needing to “yes” everyone? Do you find it hard to admit you are
wrong? Do you feel you always need to
be right in the eyes of others? Is it
hard for you to say “no” to someone?
All these things are part of the reputation our tongues build for our
character. Read Ephesians 4:25, 29; Romans 12:17. What must you put off permanently? Would a body work if each part gave the
other false information? What is
unwholesome talk (verse 31 lists
things that can result in unwholesome talk)?
Do you talk to others mostly of yourself and your things? What percentage of your daily talk is about
heavenly things and our relationship with God?
Here’s a challenge: Take one day of the week to log every conversation
you have with everyone that day.
Determine the percentage of your speech devoted to benefiting and
edifying others according to their needs.