Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)
There are some things that absolutely do not go together: You have heard it said that oil and water do not mix. That’s true. This is rivalry week in college football. One cannot be an Ohio State fan and a Michigan fan at the same time. One cannot be an Auburn fan and an Alabama fan at the same time. One cannot be a Georgia fan and a Georgia Tech fan at the same time. These things just don’t mix. As much as I love bratwurst and sauerkraut, that just does not fit with Thanksgiving! We were meant to eat turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and pecan pie on Thanksgiving! Anything thing else just does not seem right to me.
There is something that the apostle Paul cannot imagine fitting together: one who proclaims the name of Christ while their mouth is filled with filthiness, foolish talk and crude joking. The Apostle Paul was instrumental in teaching and leading the church in Ephesus (See Acts 18:24-20:36). He taught the word earnestly for three years, admonishing them with tears. He poured his heart into these believers. Now, while Paul is in a Roman prison, he addresses an issue that must be evident among the believers in Ephesus. He had to admonish them again to be imitators of God and to walk in love as Christ loved them. He warned them against the dangers of sexual immorality and he says that immorality should not even be named among them. Perhaps from Timothy, Paul hears about their language. The words that he hears that are coming out of their mouths is unbecoming as a Christian. Their minds are filled with filth and they were telling crude jokes and laughing about those said by others. Apparently, they would not take a stand against those that spoke this way, and hence they communicated that it was no big deal. It was just innocent fun.
But Paul makes very clear that these things are out of place. Filthiness and foolish talk and crude joking are never appropriate for God’s people. Filthy talk reveals what is inside the heart. Paul wants them to think before they speak. He wants to put a check in their spirit when they are tempted to tell a crude joke to get a laugh from their friends. The jokes really are not funny and they do not edify. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Do you know what is fitting for a Christian to say? Paul says that our mouths should be filled with thanksgiving! Now those go together! Christians should be the most thankful people on the earth. Praise and thanksgiving should abound in our hearts and subsequently on our lips. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will he brought us forth by the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” God has been so good to us. Anything less than thanksgiving comes from a heart filled with pride and self-sufficiency. All that we have and all that we enjoy comes from His gracious hand.
On this Thanksgiving Day of 2011 and the days that follow, let thanksgiving be spoken among you. Let your children hear the words of life. Let them hear you speak of God’s greatness and grace. Let us be known as thankful people.
Let us reflect on God’s goodness to us. As the hymn tells us, and I believe rightly so, “Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your many blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”