One evening I was at a hotel restaurant overseas. It was about 21:00, when I received a phone call from home and I began to converse in one of the national languages of my country.
After that telephone conversation, I suddenly saw a gentleman approaching me and greeted me in that language. He introduced himself as a doctor from my country and that he was residing in that foreign country for professional training purposes. He decided to move from his table and came to sit at my table in order to share dinner with me.
Our conversation continued and I had the opportunity to tell him about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints and the restored gospel.
I understood that our language, our expression and what we say every day has an impact on those who hear us and may cause us to come closer to others, or possibly drive others away. He heard me talking and because I spoke the language that caught his attention, he knew he could come near me and trust me since he knew where I came from and who I must be; certainly a brother.
When speaking to the Ephesians, Paul the apostle taught 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers ' Ephesians 4:29.
Our language in any place whatsoever must be one that inspires confidence, which edifies and must bring us closer to those who hear us.
During his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ taught that 'every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned' Matt 12, 36-37.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught the following: 'The [conversation] is the basis of friendly activity in society. It can be joyful. It may be risqué. It can be serious. It can be comical. But it should not be racy, or rude, or dirty, if you sincerely believe in Christ .... ' '[Anyone] resorting to such language immediately reveals that his vocabulary is of incredible poverty. He does not have a richness of expression sufficient to be able to speak effectively without swearing or using dirty words ...” Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008), 'Do not take God's name in vain' Ensign, Nov. 1988, p.43.
We do not need to talk properly only when we are in front of people we know. As Christians, Latter-day Saints and in Christ's way, we have the obligation to speak without rudeness, insults and profanity wherever we may be and whatever our circumstances may be. Our religion does not encourage us to use coarse language. We have an identity to defend and our language also defines our identity.
Speaking of the fateful hours when Peter denied that he was with the Savior, L. Tom Perry of the Twelve Apostles said: “As a passport photo, a signature or fingerprint can identify a person, Peter’s language as well revealed who he was and where he was raised. In like manner, you are cataloged and put into a defined category by people who hear the words you speak. Our language reflects the kind of person we are. It reveals how we were taught by our parents, and our lifestyle. It describes our way of thinking and our deepest feelings.”
Our language also defiles us as stated in the Bible: 'Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man' Matt 15: 11.
The world today is trying to disguise the vulgar, unfit, or unhealthy words by expressions of substitution. Be careful with the use of such words and expressions compared to our identity of Latter-day Saints. We can improve our language. Let us have the courage to banish from our vocabulary unhealthy words even if we hear them all day long, and let us keep clean, pure, and harmless language.
Since it is from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, I invite you to fill in our heart with the word of God, the teachings of prophets, and the acts of kindness, so that when these things abound your heart, the mouth will be able to express them for the edification of all who hear us. If we improve our language and vocabulary, we will be placed among those whom the Lord will choose for his service in the Kingdom. We will be on God’s side if we follow the modern revelation: 'He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances ' D & C 52: 16.
Brothers and Sisters, may we watch over our language and correct it if necessary. Let us avoid indecent conversations or coarse and dirty terms. Let us commit ourselves to be Christlike and to maintain a language worthy of edifying the world; a language that encourages and compliments others. May our mouth be a reflection of good things that abound our heart, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.