Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer.
2 Timothy 2:14-17
History and Context:
2 Timothy is the last letter Paul wrote before he died in approximately 67 AD. In the letter he seems to know that he is about to die and wants to make sure that he leaves Timothy prepared to continue his ministry. Throughout the letter Paul admonishes Timothy to "not be ashamed", to stick to the truth no matter what. Timothy was Paul's disciple and now Paul is passing on the mantle. He givess him specific instructions as to how he should run his church and also what to watch out for.
The text here is specifically talking about the words which we speak. Paul is showing the importance of watching our tongue. Don't strive after "words to no profit". In other words, make sure there is a purpose to what you are saying, a profit coming from it. Then he talks about the "word of truth" and again says "shun profane an idle babbling". This is one of the scriptures often used to go against the use of 'swear' words, but there is so much more to it than that. According to merriam-webster, profane means "to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt". In other words to not be reverent or respectful of the things of God in our words, is profane babbling. Idle means simply "lacking worth or basis". So speech that has no substance to it. Again it is talking aithout a purpose, sometiems without even realizing what you are saying.
Paul is telling us to be in control of our mouth. We need to speak with purpose and with profit in mind; not financial profit but spiritual profit. The challenge then is to be conscious of what you are saying today. Be aware of your tendencies. If you tend to speak without thinking, then slow down, think, evaluate what you are going to say, then say what will profit both you and your listeners. The Bible is full of warnings about the words which we speak, because these words can govern not only our lives but can also help to govern the lives of those around us. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" speak life today!
Lord, I understand the importance of my words, of being careful what I say. Help me to slow down and to consider what I say before I say it. Help me to think before I speak. Help me to speak life and not death. In Jesus' name, Amen!