I sometimes catch part of a TV show called Master Chef. Three expert chefs put a handful of amateur cooks through the paces, discarding those who don’t cut the mustard during team challenges and individual tests.
It is ‘Reality TV’, so I immediately know it isn’t real. Master Chef is contrived like every other reality show. They simply want to sell their product, and they know entertainment sells product. I’m not dumb. But it has food, so I checked it out.
One of the foundational truths on the show is that the food must be top notch. It has to taste good. The ‘judges’ are ‘culinary aficionados’. The food needs to look good, have good texture, and excellent taste. If it doesn’t, you will be voted off by said judges. These judges are as brutal on the contestants as a microwave is on a candle. To them, what goes into your mouth, and belly, is the most important thing. It will determine a part of one’s quality of life. So it has to be healthy and pleasant.
This is terribly ironic. Because the only thing that leaves a good taste in anyone’s mouth on this show is the food going into their mouths. The words spoken by those mouths are not fit for human consumption.
Part of the entertainment value of the show is 'drama'. They aren’t simply putting several cooks together for a bake-off. Most people wouldn’t watch that. So what they do is pit people against each other. It isn’t hard to do. These are competitive chefs. The atmosphere is like a pressure cooker. Once the contestants/actors start arguing with each other, it is like a bleep-fest. Strings of curse words flow like urine drizzled over a chocolate truffle. Yep… you read that right.
Why do they do that? Where does that come from? This is a competition… but it isn’t life or death. No one has just burst into your house, raped your child and killed your spouse. You simply don’t agree on whether or not to stir the fondue. Are you… serious? Do they not understand what they are saying? I think they do understand, because there is fire in their eyes while they are doing it. Do they think it makes them a better chef? Well, no, because they already think they are the greatest chef on the planet, even if they did just burn water. Are they just so ignorant that they don’t know how to express themselves in a civilized fashion? No, I don’t think so. Because I’ll bet they would curb their obscenities if I was introduced to them as a ‘pastor’. I’ve seen it too many times. If they were involved in a fund-raising meal at our church for our homeless ministry, they would not go around the church kitchen yelling “----- you, you little -------. What the --------- is --------- wrong with you?” Do they talk to their child like that when he or she over-toasts their pop tarts? Ummmm… no idea, but it is possible.
Am I upset with the viciousness of the language? Well, yes and no. I mean, yes it is gross. To my ears, cursing is about as appealing as an anthrax-iced, feces-filled doughnut. Words carry meaning. There is a distinct difference between a blessing and a curse. If I greet you in the morning with, “Hey, I’m praying for you today. I hope things go well for you. If you need anything, let me know”, you will probably leave in one frame of mind. If I greet you with, "Hey you------, You are a ------------------- ---------. I hope you get hit by a --------- car. And I plan on seeing your ---------sister later and -------- her with a ---------" you will probably not leave in such a great frame of mind. Don’t tell me you don’t recognize the difference between those greetings. Words are powerful. A blessing is powerful. A curse is equally powerful. At some point in the future, God will say to one group of people, “Enter into my presence for eternity.” To another group He will say, “Depart from me for eternity.” Both statements will carry equal weight. So let’s not act like words don’t have meaning. We’re all grown up around here. If I see you tomorrow and say, “God bless you”, you will think one thing about me. If I say, “God ------- you”, you will think something else about me. Why? Because I am a ‘preacher’? Maybe. But also because those words have power. Yet, words only have power because of the thoughts behind them. Without the thought, words are just letters in a row. The heart/motive is what makes a curse word a curse word. Letters strung together don’t make a curse. Evil thoughts do.
So, I am more disturbed, and broken by the source of their cursing. The curse does not originate in their mouth, it arises from their soul. They are broken people. They are messed up. Not because they use bad words. The evil words are evidence of an evil issue. People use bad words because they have (or have had) horrible stuff going on inside of them. And that is more disturbing to me than the words themselves. Jesus put it this way… “Don’t you realize that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”" (Matthew 15:17-20)
So, basically, neither the judges nor the contestants on Master Chef understand good taste. They don’t even know where to look for good taste. Ironic, isn’t it? They are concerned about what they are consuming, yet they don’t give a… a care about what is consuming them. Eating an under-cooked soufflé does not eternally hurt anyone. It isn’t even a blip on the radar of human problems. People curse because they are not satisfied with themselves. That is frustrating, because none of us can clean ourselves up enough to be satisfied with us or anyone else. That is the real tragedy. They feel better for an instant because they have released some of the pent up sewage in their soul. But they haven’t been cleansed of it, so their soul continues to rot. And this is the case of people who are living in true reality everyday. It is heart-breaking. Issues in life like cursing are like that squeak in your brakes. You can either stay mad at your brakes for squeaking, or you can understand that they squeak to let you know that they need to be repaired.
What’s my point? Should we watch what we say? Well, sure… that’s a good idea actually. One reason we have teeth is to keep our tongues in place. History is full of people who should have watched what they said. The Bible instructs us to watch measure our words. But more important than watching what we say, we should be who we were created to be. God is interested in having such a transformative interaction with us that evil words don’t come up and out... because they aren’t there to come up and out. Be competitive. Argue for what is right. Speak the truth. But do it in love. Words of life should pour from your lips like refreshing peach juice runs down your chin. You can exchange your vocabulary without changing your heart. But at that point, you just are half-baked, and not complete. But when the heart is made new, a believer doesn’t use the same words they used to. The words we use tell what we are made of. They reveal our ingredients, so to speak. God is preparing within believers a delicious dish of edification, of which the world can partake and receive nutrition for their soul.
So, what are you serving up today?
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.