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daily conversations, but to speak and deal honestly with others in order that all might know our "yes" means "yes" and our "no" is "no." Our word is to be trusted. The frequent liar, the one that others tend to doubt, the one who cannot be trusted, is the person that is forced to use stronger language in order to be believed. Jesus condemned this practice when He taught, "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matthew 5:37).

We must guard ourselves against the danger for which Jesus warns us. Profane, cursing, obscene, and degrading language are often used from a desire and attempt to impress others. If one's word is not trusted, or if it is not convincing or impressive, he might try to add more strength to it by using this type of language. Rash swearing, taking an oath to confirm matters in daily conversation, arises from the same problem.

Therefore, we should avoid the very root and first steps of this error. Developing a habit of stronger language to confirm our "yes" or "no" is wrong. Occasional use may be appropriate, but frequent use of expressions such as "I promise you that...," "I guarantee that...," "I'm positive that...," and "I'm absolutely, 100 percent sure that...," is the first step toward using stronger language to support our words. It represents a first stage in attempting to make our talk sound more impressive or convincing. We are to cultivate the regular practice of speaking the truth, not the habit of using increasingly stronger language. An honest person's "yes" will be trusted more than a dishonest person's most powerfully worded "no."

The roughest-speaking, boldest-sounding persons are often the most weak and fearful inwardly, as the following example illustrates.

    Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, when crossing the Forth on a small ferry, unhappily found himself in the company of several loud, profane, cursing people. After this continued for a considerable time, he finally stood up, gained their attention, and declared loudly, "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain." Without adding a word, he sat down.


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


  • Forth - A river in southeast Scotland

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