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Page 437

    wouldn't they? Imagine there were no standards for decency in dress. Many would then lose their freedom to go shopping on a warm day without being offended. If you do not enforce any standards of language decency, then many will lose their freedom to read daily newspapers without being offended."

    What Christian aspects of language usage was John trying to promote?

The third commandment includes the need to correct those who use God's Name in vain. How best to do this varies according to each situation and individual. In general, and when possible, the following are helpful guidelines:

1. Establish a strong moral basis - If you work with others, and they come to know you as a person who consistently lives according to the moral standards you promote, your influence will be greater than if the reverse is true.

2. Pray for the necessary wisdom and right opportunity - Daily prayer regarding this specific matter will help you to recognize a good opportunity when it arises, and you need the Lord to grant you "the right words at the right time."

3. Try to speak as privately as possible - Do not correct one individual in front of others when avoidable. At times, group or public profanity must be dealt with publicly or immediately. As far as possible, however, seek to employ the "Matthew 18 Principle."

4. Speak the truth in love - Do not be afraid to speak against sin and for God's truth. Seek grace to fear God more than man. Do not cater to false shame. Speak the truth clearly, but speak the truth in love. Avoid all condescending, self-righteous, "better-than-you" types of words, phrases, and mannerisms. Try to convey genuine love, concern, and respect. Speak with carefulness, tact, and empathy. Be brief, clear, and polite. The use of an example is often helpful. (Chapter Ten in Volume I, page 413, provides an illustration of this approach.)

5. Follow your conversation with prayer - You need God's enabling grace to speak, and the person spoken to needs God's applying grace for your words to be effectual to him.

Personal "freedom" which transgresses God's law is no longer "freedom" but rebellion. Why?


Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

- Matthew 18:15-16

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.

- Ephesians 4:15


  • Tact - Appropriateness; tenderness; carefulness
  • Empathy - Feeling for another; mentally relating to another's feelings
  • Effectual - Producing the desired result

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