What constitutes crooked speech? It is talk that isn’t straight, of course. It is bowed, off-kilter, circuitous, meandering. There are a few examples we could cite.
1. Falsehoods Telling lies about ourselves or others is breaking covenant. Even if we’re just “stretching” the truth or “bending” the truth, entertaining distortions or investing in stereotypes, we cut a line unfit to build relationships or reputations of integrity with. You can’t be square with God and neighbor if all your lumber’s warped.
2. Gossip Talking about someone rather than to them is slantways. We all know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but gossips take the easy “shortcut” of the long way around. They might never get to you but they’ll certainly get after you. That’s crooked.
3. Hypocrisy This is some of the crookedest speech. Somebody who misrepresents themselves, posturing success from a place of personal bankruptcy or feigning sincerity and sensitivity one moment while savaging others the next. Hypocrites preach “peace, peace” not only when there is no peace, but while they’re waging wars. They will preach love and respect while they secretly and sometimes openly behave oppositely. The Bible calls these folks “double minded.” They’re fork-tongued too.
There are certainly more kinds of crooked speech, but these are the most common. Proverbs 4:24 reminds us that the Lord loves a straight shooter.
… but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.—James 5:12