October 23, 2008
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, 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 12:34a-37
Keith Lund, who has worked for decades in Lutheran Outdoors Ministry, is one of my oldest friends.
When he came to me with an article and said, "I think you ought to read this." I did. The article was produced by a small magazine that dealt with communication solutions. In a full-page article, it gave instructions on how a company executive could have solid, meaningful staff meetings.
The first rule it gave was this: "Senior leaders should introduce themselves." The second thought said, "Pick a volunteer in the audience to keep the speech on track." The third encouragement -- the one Keith had noted -- said, "Mix in a couple of mild swear words." The author said, "You won't believe the effect it will have on the audience." (Italics are his.)
The more I thought about that idea, the more disturbed I became.
I know it is impossible to turn on the TV or go to a movie without being confronted with a barrage of foul language. I know offensive talk has become a right of passage for teenage boys, and some women take pride in using language that would make an old sailor blush. (They tell me it's a way of gaining equality.)
Even so, it's not what the Lord expects of His people. He who gave His life so we could have life and who spoke as a person of authority, didn't pepper His powerful pronouncements with profanity.
And there's one other thing. The strongest speech I ever heard was spoken without the uttering of a single word. One time, when I had let my father down, he didn't say a thing. He just gave me a look -- a look that I remember still -- a look that said, "Ken, I'm disappointed in you."
From that moment on, that look from a respected and honorable man, not foul and filthy words, has always defined for me what a real man can say.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You spoke as no man had ever spoken. In Your words we hear of the Father's love and the strength that comes from our Savior. Now may I, in the things I say, and the way I live, give a powerful witness to You. In Your Name, I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries