The Bible tells us to be careful of our words, that we will have to give account for careless words, be they spoken in anger or thoughtlessness. In my history of walking with the Lord, the first thing God taught me was to clean up my language. He wanted me to use words that honor him and that bless others around me. I worked at the task, clean up medy tongue, beginning with my thoughts, and gave to the Lord, in obedience, my mouth for his service.

Everywhere I go in my life, people around me use many colorful words and sayings, often crude. I say nothing, because it is not my place. It was God who spoke to me of my sin. I am to let God speak to them as well. Ask me and I will tell you my thoughts, but until then, I have not earned the right to speak. Now, this is in social settings, you understand. There is a time and place to speak up, whether asked or not.

I used to work in a grocery store, stocking shelves, cashiering, helping customers, receiving. While there, colorful words sprinkled the air like confetti on the 4th of July. It was the accepted thing, you understand. The following pattern began without me really noticing, but my coworkers did notice. People would swear, paint the air around them in technicolor, and then look at me and apologize. One day, my supervisor asked me, “Why does everyone apologize to you for swearing?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Do they?”

“Yes,” he said, “all the time.”

So I began to pay attention and, yes, as he said, apologies were part of the everyday conversation.

One day, during the construction phase of the store, the electrition was up on a ladder, working on the electic panel. I heard a loud sizzle and looked up just in time to see the man arcing upward through the air and landing with a loud smack on his back on the floor. The entire path of his descent was punctuated by one word that begins with “F.”

We all ran to his side to see if we needed to call 911. He groaned, got up, looked at me and said, “Sorry about the cuss word.” There were four of us, and he apologized only to me.

I never quite heard the end of that. My coworkers laughed for a good week after that one. I don’t know if my behavior was a witness to those around me or not – I wasn’t really paying attention. But I do know that others watch you and they learn about your view of God by the way to act and talk. Are you truthful in your daily dealings? Are you kind? These things do not go unnoticed.