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Q: What is the best way to talk with someone about his or her swearing?

Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 18:15-20

A: Every case is different.  If a person swears who is friend at school, someone you work with, or a person you see on a regular basis, the best approach may be to:

  1. Pray for a fitting opportunity and fitting words

  2. Look for God’s answer

  3. Speak when the opportunity is provided.

The following is an example:

Tim heard his friend Bob use some swear words on the school bus.  This bothered him and he prayed that God would give him an opportunity to speak with Bob about it. This did not happen for a few days, but then an opportunity came.  Bob came to him during the noon hour and told him he would like to talk with him.  As they walked away, Bob told him about an after-school job that he was starting.  After he was finished, Tim said, “Bob, there’s also something that I wanted to talk with you about as well – with just the two of us.  A few days ago on the bus, I heard you use some swear words and it really bothered me.  I’m concerned about you and other kids on the bus – especially the younger ones. I’m worried about myself too, that I’ll start talking like that too if my friends do, because I’m no better.”   After some silence, Bob answered, “You’re right, Tim, I’ll try to watch it.”  Tim thanked the Lord for this opportunity and for guiding this in a way that Bob had responded well.

Praying and looking for a fitting opportunity is important.  Trying to correct a person when he or she is in a fit of anger, for example, will likely not be successful.  You may only succeed in provoking the person to swear all the more!

We must speak.  But pray to speak with love, respect, humility and wisdom.  Try to speak the right words in the right way at the right time.  God can help you to do this.

Are God’s honor and a friend’s welfare most important to you, or is your name and reputation?  Often we can struggle between these two in situations like speaking to a friend about his or her swearing.  What do you think can help us to focus more on God and others and less on ourselves?


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