I started swearing when I was about 12. Not just the damns and the hells but in short order I’d memorized and perfected the full Glossary of Foulness in fine fashion. Peers at school were my tutors. Public school, but years later at my Christian high school it wasn’t any different. I turned it off when I got home and back on the next morning at the bus stop.
Completely fine with not sounding real PC, it is a nation’s constant readiness to wage violent war that makes peace most likely. Similarly, in the Christian life the only peace we get comes from waging a cunning, relentless, take-no-prisoners war against indwelling sin. Ephesians 4:27 warns us that like marijuana, even our “small” sins become gateways through which the enemy can get a foothold in our lives and lead to even more God-dishonoring stuff.
I once got into a name-calling fight with an older kid that my dad tried to referee. My opponent pointed out that I had called him an SOB but for some reason my dad didn’t say much to me about it. Although pretty foul in school, it was in the workplace where I got immersed in a world of profanity and vulgarity.
When God rescued me at age 25, it was my tongue that despaired me the most; how would I ever beat this sin? Despaired because although I’d been a lifelong churchgoer, I understood almost nothing about the “new man”, or how the power of God worked in a believer to do what I could not do.
Thankfully, within 2 years my tongue had been mostly tamed and I banned from my mouth even the milder words that some Christians think nothing of. For 25 years I had a nearly 100% success rate. Then my high school age sons started using some of the “think nothing of” words, and though I fought it for some time I soon decided they weren’t hills I wanted to die on. I still chided them but since it wasn’t regular, left the occasional offense pass.
It was about then that I was just beginning to recognize and hate my pharisaism so I found myself letting “crap” or “suck” slip out of my own mouth–almost as if to prove to myself I had shed the mantle of the self-righteous. Guess what else started showing up again; something would go wrong in my shop and I’d “?*$!”.
A friend who struggled with various addictive behaviors once told me it seemed that when he stopped using smokeless tobacco it was the bellwether to other victories. Conquering the smallest addiction seemed open the door to bigger victories.
We are not saved by what we do but by what Christ did; on the cross, and what he did in us. He has made each of us a new person. Now our response to His grace is to ruthlessly war against the God-dishonoring stuff threatening us that’s big, and small (Romans 13:14). But it may be the smaller stuff–that’s the bigger deal.