Anyone who prefaces a theological question by admitting she's flawed is my kind of woman! Plus, I can identify with having an unruly tongue. Whenever I bump my toe into a table or graze my bumper on the garage doorframe, the first word that comes to mind typically isn't hallelujah!
What Does God Say About This?
Regardless of stubbed toes or bent fenders, we bumbling believers must temper our language. The Bible is quite vocal on the subject, as evidenced in these key verses: "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21, NIV); "Those who are careful about what they say keep themselves out of trouble" (Proverbs 21:23, NCV); "On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37, ESV); "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift" (Ephesians 4:29, The Message); "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless" (James 1:26, ESV).
These sober warnings emphasize the importance of being attentive to and intentional about every single syllable flying out of our mouths. Our speech should reflect the spiritual maturity of a growing relationship with God. As his image bearers, we must delete all words—not just swear words—that don't glorify God or benefit others.1