Trash Talking

2 06 2014

We have become a nation of trash talkers. Sports, politics, businesses, and entertainment venues are filled with people who trash talk the people around them. It doesn’t matter if they are on the other side of the field, the aisle, the conference table, or the red carpet, trash talking is used to define our space, defend our position, or demonstrate our legitimacy. We seem to have absorbed the idea in our culture that trash talking is an appropriate outgrowth of the one-upmanship that characterizes the American can-do spirit.

Historians tell us that the phrase “trash talking” originated in the mid 1980’s in America, but trash talking has been around for centuries. It is at the root of war cries, the foundation for gossip, and the cornerstone of pride. The dictionary defines trash talking as “the use of disparaging or boastful language intended to demoralize, intimidate, or humiliate someone.”

We don’t have to turn to the national stage to hear trash talking. Go to any neighborhood playground, sit in a coffee shop, walk through a busy store, or plug into Facebook and Twitter and listen for five minutes. Someone somewhere is using words to bully, boast, discourage, or defeat someone else. Kids trash talk other kids. Parents trash talk to their children. People trash talk about their spouses. We will even trash talk about the person we don’t know who got in our way, cut us off, inconvenienced us, or just didn’t look “right.”

As Christians, we are called to live and speak in a different way. “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.” – Ephesians 4:29

My Jesus Resolution today is to be aware of my words. Words have power. Even words said in jest. Even words said in passing. Words have the power to break down or build up. They have the power to cement a relationship or destroy it. They have the power to ignite joy or incinerate hope. I want to teach my children to be treasure finders, rather than trash talkers. I want them to be able to find the good in others, rather than being quick to point out their faults. Jesus never trash talked anybody. He used words to open a door into His Father’s presence. I want to be just like Him.


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