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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

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February 15, 2007

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It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. Matthew 15:11

The 1939 movie blockbuster, Gone With The Wind, shocked the world with its costumes, its acting, the scope of its story, and the language used by Rhett Butler as he said a final farewell to Scarlett. Maybe you remember these words. It went something like, “Frankly, my dear, I haven’t formed much of an opinion on what will happen to you.”

We’ve come a long way since those days, and the direction we’ve come hasn’t been forward.

For example, about two weeks ago a three-judge panel on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told a police officer that he had gone too far when he arrested a man for cursing during a Montrose Township Board meeting. What did the man say? It’s not important. What is important is those judges said, “It cannot be seriously contended that any reasonable peace officer, or citizen, for that matter, would believe that mild profanity while peacefully advocating a political position could constitute a criminal act.”

In short, the judges think it’s every individual’s right to curse… if that cursing is done mildly and peacefully.

Now, I’m sure those judges know a whole lot more about the law than I do. If they say the man shouldn’t be arrested, they must know what they’re talking about. If they say this man has certain unalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of being crude, foul-mouthed and blasphemous; who am I to argue? Apparently, Christians have no rights other than to sit at a public meeting and listen attentively as some upset fellow drags their Lord’s Name through the muck and mire of tasteless impropriety.

Of course, since the man was using God’s Name in a public meeting, maybe he should have been kicked out for violating the rule that separates church and state. If I can’t pray at such a meeting, maybe he shouldn’t be able to curse at such a gathering.

Those judges may believe that no reasonable person believes that cursing is a criminal act. Maybe the law is on their side, but I agree with James who said, “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3: 8-10)

James knew, as many of my readers know that the things we say, every bit as much as the things we do, show our respect or disregard of the Redeemer. The world believes that the words we use and the things we say are reasonable barometers of our closeness to the Savior and the impact Jesus has made upon our lives. This is why I’d like to say some of those words with you.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You have taught us to keep Your Name holy, and indeed it is. No words in this world can tarnish Your Name or the salvation You gave us in exchange with Your life, death and resurrection. Even so, I pray that Your Holy Spirit will guide all I do, and especially the words that flow from my mouth. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Today's Bible Readings: Exodus 21-22    Matthew 27:51-66

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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