Guard your Words
Proverbs (NCV) Don't use your mouth to tell lies; don't ever say things that are not true.
Friend to friend
In a country church, an altar boy was serving the priest at Sunday mass. When he accidentally dropped the cruet of wine, the village priest slapped the boy and shouted, “Leave the church and don’t come back!” That boy became Tito, the Communist leader. In the cathedral of a large, inner city church, the altar boy accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. With a twinkle in his eye, the Bishop told the boy, “One day you will be a priest.” That boy grew up to be Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Words are power tools! In the right hands and used correctly, words can create. In the wrong hands and used incorrectly, words can destroy. The truth of Proverbs 13:3 is a haunting one, “Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin.” (GWT) If we do not learn to use and control our tongue, it will use and control us! If God is not in control of our mouths, He is not in control of our lives. James is brutally clear on this point, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James NIV) Worthless! I shudder to think that what I count as Kingdom work is, in God’s eyes, worthless, erased because of my uncontrolled tongue.
The simple fact is - we will be held accountable for every word we speak. “And I tell you that on the Judgment Day people will be responsible for every careless thing they have said.” (Matthew NCV) “Careless” literally means “ineffective or useless”. The words we speak will either be effective and useful or they will be inadequate and useless. We need to choose the words we speak very carefully - and we need to make sure our words are truthful. Oh, how easy it is to nudge the truth aside to spare our pride or rationalize away some hidden sin. A story is better told with a few “juicy” words added. The phone rings, and we instruct the family to say, “She is not here.” How often do we rush to share someone’s mistake or failure under the guise of “praying for them”?
During a recent bout with the stomach flu, I went to the doctor who began his examination by asking me to stick out my tongue. Why? After all, the problem was in my stomach. What did my tongue have to do with my stomach? I had to ask. “Why do doctors always ask patients to stick out their tongues? Are they stalling for time or is there a surplus of tongue depressors?” The doctor laughed, then gave a surprising answer, “The health of the tongue is a strong indicator of the whole body’s health!” The same can be said of our spiritual health. If there is something wrong with our words, there is something wrong with our hearts. Matthew puts it this way, “The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart.” (Matthew NCV) My mother often said, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” When Jesus Christ is Lord of the heart, He is Lord of the lips as well. We need to guard our mouths.
Father, I am helpless to control my mouth and my eyes. I surrender both to you. I trust your Word to be my helper and defender against the lies of Satan. Help me to guard the words I speak and the things I see. Amen.
~ Today’s devotion is taken from Mary’s book, “Hope in the Midst of Depression”. ~
Now it’s your turn
Pay attention to the words you speak today. Evaluate the affect they have on others. Make a list of the negative words you speak today. Choose to eliminate those words from your heart and mind. Screen your life for outside sources of wrong influence. Choose to eliminate them, one by one.
Who is your audience in life? How can your outlook best be described? Are you known to be a person of encouragement? Do people see you as a truth-teller? What changes do you need to make in your speech and your outlook on life?
More from the girls
If you are like us, there are many times during the day when you wish you could grab the words you just spoke and cram them back in your mouth. We are right there with you, girlfriend! Together, let’s pray that God will empower us to guard our words and use them to build and encourage. Blessings!
For more on this topic, see Mary’s book Sandpaper People.
Girlfriends in God
Matthews, NC 28106
Originally published Thursday, 05 April 2007.