Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
I don’t know about you. But I don’t know how much more of the presidential campaigning I can take. The robocalls, television and radio ads, and news coverage — all coated with mud. Was there ever a time when the candidates
just debated the issues without personally tearing each other down? Every election year, I literally cringe, when I hear the hurtful things that are said about each candidate. Unfortunately, it isn’t just the candidates slinging mud these days. When discussing politics, I have witnessed some surprisingly harsh discussions from people who are usually pretty friendly. (Interestingly, in classical latin, the word ‘discussion’ meant: to strike asunder, break up, smash apart, scatter, and disperse. But in post-classical times it evolved to its present meaning: to investigate, examine, debate.When discussing politics we seem to regress!) Recently I was discussing the mud-slinging phenomenon with a friend when I was reminded of my own mud slinging. And not just of the ‘political’ sort! (Whenever you point a finger there are always three pointing back!) Just that morning, I had made an unkind remark about a public servant, who had been very impatient with me when I asked for help. As I thought about it, other times I had said unkind things also came to my remembrance.
I decided to write this post based on a gut feeling of mine, that I am not the only person who struggles with the words that come out of my mouth. If you do too, we are not alone. Even King David struggled, which caused him to write, “Set a guard over my mouth, keep watch over the door of my lips.” and “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth . . .” Actually, according to the Bible in James 3:8, “No man can tame the tongue.” You may be strong in some respects of guarding your words, but maybe you struggle with others. James Melton wrote a great article, Sins of the Tongue, in which he dealt with every kind of struggle of the tongue. The Lying Tongue, Flattering Tongue, Proud Tongue, Overused Tongue, Swift Tongue, Backbiting Tongue, Talebearing Tongue, Cursing Tongue, Piercing Tongue, and Silent Tongue. Melton also points out that the Bible likens the tongue to various weapons.
Scripture is very vivid in its description of what harm the tongue can do.
- The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21
- Reckless Words pierce like a sword. Proverbs 12:18
- The tongue is a fire. James 3:6
- The tongue is full of deadly poison. James 3:8
- A deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:4
- A lying tongue hates those it hurts. Proverbs 26:28
- Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow. Proverbs 25:18 NLT
I think if we could actually see the emotional wounds our words leave on the hearer we would be more restrained. Fortunately, the tongue also has the power to give life and bring healing.
- The lips of the righteous nourish many. Proverbs 10:21
- The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life. Proverbs 15:4
- The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom. Psalm 37:30
- The tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
- Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
- He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23
So, how do we put a guard on our mouth? First, we should pray. Just as David did. We need God’s help. Remember, “No man can tame the tongue.” But with the help of the Holy Spirit, our words can be life-giving and pleasing to God.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalms 19:14
Second, a practical way we can guard our mouth is to simply THINK before we speak. Before we let a word out of our mouth, we must ask ourselves these questions.
Is it Truthful?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspirational?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
The Bible has a lot to say about our words and how we use them. I invite you to click on the “Just Say Know” Bible Study link below to learn more. If you are someone, who really has a raging battle with controlling your words and it is having an immense impact on your life, I also encourage you to read the R-rated version of this post. LH
“JUST SAY KNOW” Bible Study
Click on the link below for this week’s Bible Study.