Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
– Ephesians 4:29
According to the Urban Dictionary, the term “keeping it real” means “Do not be fake. Be yourself.”*
I was a tender teenager when the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies hit the United States. My generation threw off the social inhibitions of the previous ones with a deafening chant of “Sex and drugs and rock and roll,” which, if sung loudly enough, drowned out the whispers of a guilty conscience. They were, after all, keeping it real.
The societal rebellion that rocked a nation fifty years ago seems tame in comparison to today’s shock jock culture. Today it takes more to be a rebel. Normal is forgettable, and nobody wants to be forgettable. We reach for something new, minus the God that used to define us.
Keeping it real in today’s culture means making it raw.
As our culture slides down the gulf into perdition, God’s people dance around its edges in an effort to be genuine and relevant. We mostly just get sooty and soiled.
To be real is a good thing. It’s important we don’t hide our struggles behind a mask of religiosity. It’s vital the church walks the ground where suffering lives. We are called, though, to transform the wilderness we leave behind us. And that means living a life separated from the filth. It’s not about looking good on the outside, and it’s not about phoniness.
In fact, if you’re a believer, then vulgarity is phony, because that’s not the real you talking.
The vulgar old man is dead, crucified on the same cross upon which Jesus hung as His blood poured out to cleanse humanity.
You are a new man, arisen from the grave with our Lord. You have been resurrected to a new life. Do not walk around like Lazarus in the rotting graveclothes in which you were buried. You were meant for more.
The Greek word for “unwholesome” in Ephesians 4:29 indicates something that is rotten or foul, like spoiled food. Foul language is not real; it’s rotten.
If you are searching for something that’s real, try extending grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it. When another person is rude to you, extend courtesy instead. Humility is just as real as arrogance.
We’re told in the Bible that a gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). The restoration of a relationship is as real as it gets. You have the power of life and death in your words.
We are urged in Ephesians 4:29 not to “let” unwholesome words come out of us, a reminder that we are in control of our own tongues.
Don’t be a fake. Be yourself. Keep it real.
For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
– Romans 22-25