During this time of lockdown, my wife and I have been watching more TV than usual. We have seen some films which we were not aware existed, and others which we would have preferred that they didn’t! We have also been reading more secular books, such as novels, as well as some heavier tomes.
We have been struck by the amount of ‘bad language’ that is present in these media – not just the occasional swear word, but a torrent of language that seems to be a necessity in any successful film or book. Sometimes the storyline was quite gripping, but the language meant we chose to forfeit the story by turning off the film.
I remember when our children were teenagers and sometimes watched videos (shows our age!) which contained less than pure language. When we gently challenged them, the answer came back “Oh we filter those things out”. How could we prove that they didn’t? I am sure that many things we hear and choose to ignore actually stay there in our inner being. The carnal nature doesn’t let go that easily, which is why we need healing help towards holiness.
The world that the Apostle Paul grew up in had its fair share of bad words, and actions, hence his concern for the new believers at both Corinth and Ephesus. Paul reminds his readers that ‘love is not rude’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-5), and echoes this in Ephesians 5:4, (translated by the New Living Translation as ‘obscene stories, foolish talk and coarse jokes- these are not for you. Instead let there be thankfulness to God’). C.K. Barrett, in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 13, says that love ‘does not behave in an unseemly way’.
Paul also tells the Colossians, ‘Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone’(Col. 4:6 NLT), encouraging us to be careful how we speak to others.
In our world, which contains so much unseemliness and coarse joking, we must be careful to ensure that our conversation is worthy of the name of the Lord and is not rude. Maybe that will mean that we watch fewer movies and read a more select set of books, through being a bit more discerning about the content, and we will choose only those that will build us up in maturity in Jesus.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the creative gifts You give to film makers and writers, which can bring us joy and laughter. Help us to be careful about what we read and what we watch, so that we will always honour You and set a good example to others. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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