I have a dear friend who has made a resolve to use her mouth to speak only words of kindness about others. She strives to uplift with her conversations, following the scriptural admonition to “speak the truth in love.” She is conspicuously absent whenever conversations turn to gossip or critical evaluations of Church leaders.
Our words to each other matter. I was struck with the vividness of the image used by Timothy in these verses:
But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker... 2 Timothy 2:16-17
The phrase profane and vain babblings can also be translated as worldly and empty chatter, irreverent talk and godless, foolish discussions.
Canker in 2 Timothy means gangrene, translating the Greek word from which the Latin gangrena and the English "gangrene" are derived. Some translations use the word "cancer." RSV translates the passage:
"Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will eat its way like gangrene."
Such is the power of language. And how important it is to remember the corrosive nature of unworthy speech.