The quickest way to change a situation is to open our mouths and have something selfish and negative come out. With just a few harsh words, the tone of a conversation can be altered and the general mood of the room is radically different. Depending on what we say and how we say it, relationships can be damaged for a significant amount of time.
Recognizing this, it’s easy to see how careless words can tear apart family members.
After warning the Colossian believers to put to death any idolatry and greed that comes out of their hearts, Paul encourages them to take their conduct up to the next level by closely watching what comes out of their mouths.
But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth.
Paul says that these types of words must be put away. The Greek word for put away means to “put off or aside”. This action is intentional, and there’s no wiggle room here, it must be done.
Not to be self-congratulating, but I would like to use an example from my own life – I have decided there are some things that my boys will never hear from me.
I can clearly remember stories, jokes, and advice given to me over the years…but I will not repeat them. Some memories go way back into my youth. The stories and jokes were meant to be funny, and honestly, I laughed quite a bit at them. My immaturity was in full bloom as I listened intently to my friends’ stories, trying to add in some off-color or inappropriate joke of my own. My quick wit was good for that, or so I thought.
I also have distinct memories of “advice” given to me by people who were lashing out in anger and frustration, either at someone else or at the world in general. I can still hear their voices say those words as they angrily warned me to avoid certain individuals or people groups.
However, I will not place the burden of these words on my children, or anyone else around me. The memory of these words will die with me.
Now that the memories have been put away, the real challenge is to follow Paul’s direction and keep anything new from springing out of my mouth. Now you must put away he says. Paul’s direction needs to be applied moment by moment – even when things go sideways at work, or I’m caught off-guard, or my plans for the evening get wrecked, or I am hurt (yet again) by someone close to me.
Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to be upset, frustrated, or even angry; we just need to be watchful for how our mouths express those emotions. Guarding what comes out of our mouths is vital for maintaining healthy relationships within the family of God and with those outside of the family.