Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!

Out of the same mouth come 
praise and cursing. My brothers 
and sisters, this should not be. 
James 3:10

A prayer to avoid using coarse language

Holy Father, it has become so easy for me to use your name in un-holy ways.  There was once a time that when angered or frustrated I would just say some silly old saying.  But as I drew closer to the ways of the world my language followed.  I want to be closer to you instead, LORD.  I want to speak like your son, Jesus.  I know that anger, impatience, laziness, and bitterness are all roots of my use of foul language.  Help me, Holy Spirit, to cut out those roots so that out of my mouth comes praise, prayer, forgiveness and grace.  I will use my mouth, with your guidance, for these rather than obscenity and coarseness.  Amen


We all remember that moment well.  I was driving the middle school carpool that morning.  A car full of young, impressionable minds.  Just before I got to a busy intersection a car swerved over from another lane in front of me, causing me to hit my brakes.  And just as our basic driving skills become automated, my middle finger and mouth began its ugly automatic work.  The car went silent.  I was immediately convicted of my sin by five sets of enlarged eyes on me.

You’d think that instances like that would’ve got me to stop cursing in anger but it hasn’t.  In fact, knowing about three weeks ago that eventually I’d be writing this post I started more aggressively working on this problem.  And yet, just the other day I think I managed to use just about every curse word available when talking to my husband about politics.  

Nor should there be obscenity, 
foolish talk or coarse joking, 
which are out of place, but 
rather thanksgiving.  
Ephesians 5:4

Have you ever watched a movie where it seemed the director purposely had every actor place a curse word in every sentence the actors spoke?  I have.  And I’ve finally had to stop watching.  I understand when our anger rises up that we again allow our mouths to control our world.  But the gratuitous use of cursing is not something I understand.  Everything, to some people, is “f’ing (fill in the blank).”  It’s become just another adjective.  And yet, it isn’t.

According to one researcher, we swear on average from 0.3% to 0.7% of the time — a tiny but significant percentage of our overall speech.  Given the fact that the average woman speaks about 25,000 words a day that adds up to around 1,750 swear words per day.  That’s a lot of sinful speaking.

When I worked in our local high schools, I would see the prevalence of swearing amongst our teenagers.  Each year it seemed to get worse and worse.  When I would admonish a student they would say, “oops, it was just an accident.”  However, we all know that well-practiced behaviors become simply rote acts.  

We are told throughout the Bible and especially the New Testament that we, as believers in God and then Jesus, are to be set apart from this world.  

Let us behave decently, 
as in the daytime, not 
in carousing and drunkenness, 
not in sexual immorality and 
debauchery, not in dissension 
and jealousy. Rather, clothe 
yourselves with the Lord 
Jesus Christ, and do not 
think about how to gratify 
the desires of the flesh. 
Romans 13:13-14

This verse makes it clear, whether in daytime, nighttime, with Christian friends or non, in our work environment, our home, or alone in our car, we are to clothe ourselves with Jesus.  The worst I have ever read come out of Jesus’ mouth was to call the Pharisees “vipers.”  

In the United States, during the 19th century, there was a craze to come up with “mild oaths” or pseudo-swearwords that replaced profane words with inoffensive ones. They tended to be silly and even poetic. “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat,” “Holy, Moly,” and “gee willikers!” were just a few. It was a sign of our Christian influence in society. Sadly, we seem to have lost not only that influence but our desire to be that influence.

My BSGs’ (Bible Study Girls) favorite saying is “imperfect progress.”  And that’s what I’m in the midst of – really, aren’t we all?  And as I listen to our media, tv shows, music, and more accept that cursing God’s name as the “new normal” I pray for the Holy Spirit to help me be set apart.  I want my “new normal” to be for the glory of God, not for the fulfillment of my flesh.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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