No Value in Profanity

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Horace Porter, a lieutenant colonel and personal secretary to General Ulysses Grant during the American Civil War, wrote about a conversation he had with the famous general one evening while they were sitting by a campfire. Porter commented, “General, it seems singular that you should have gone through all the rough and tumble of army service and frontier life, and have never been provoked into swearing. I have never heard you utter an oath.”

Grant responded, “Well, somehow or other, I never learned to swear. When a boy, I seemed to have an aversion to it, and when I became a man I saw the folly of it. I have always noticed too, that swearing helps to arouse a man’s anger; and when a man flies into a passion, his adversary who keeps cool always gets the better of him. In fact, I could never see the value of swearing. I think it is the case with many people who swear excessively that it is mere habit…they do not always mean to be profane; to say the least, it is a great waste of time.”

How many seconds, minutes, and even days of life have been wasted in profane speech? In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we are instructed to “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it might impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). Paul follows this up by saying to put away “evil speaking” (Eph. 4:31).

Since we will be judged by every idle word that proceeds from our mouths (Matt. 12:36), wouldn’t it be best to follow Jesus’ command to “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Matt. 5:37)? Anything more is from the evil one, and is therefore a waste of time. Christian, profanity is of no value!

Matt Clifton

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