Welcome to a new study series. Instead of choosing a specific book of the Bible this time, I felt compelled by the Spirit of God to focus on a topic instead, the importance and power of our words. Proverbs 21:23 tells us: He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles. (NASB) I especially like the way this verse is translated in the Passion Translation: Watch your words and be careful what you say, and you’ll be surprised how few troubles you will have. (TPT)
To be sure, I lay no claim to mastering the art of guarding my tongue and have repented more times than I can count for words I regretted. But one thing I do know: having reached the age when more of my life is behind me than what is ahead of me, I want to make every day count and every word I speak pleasing to my God. How about you?
Let’s begin with a verse that grips my attention every time I read it. It’s found in the New Testament in the book of Matthew. “I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” Matt. 12:36 These words were spoken by Jesus and reflect precisely what is written in the Torah and the Prophets, the very scriptures that were familiar to the people of His day.
King Solomon wrote in the Proverbs: When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise. Proverbs 10:19
And in Proverbs 17:27 we read this words: He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
And again, Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 29:20
And perhaps the most significant verse regarding our speech in all of the Proverbs: Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
‘He who restrains his lips is wise…’ we read above. Wisdom is knowing what to say and when to say it, as well as what NOT to say and when NOT to say it. Whether or not we have acquired wisdom will be manifest in how we talk.
The Bible does not sugarcoat the lives of the men and women in its pages. We read of their triumphs and we also read of their failures and what some of them did and what some of them said at times were at times exceedingly wrong. From the best of God’s servants we learn what not to do, as much as we learn what we should do. And when it comes to our tongues, the imperfections and failings recorded are almost always traced back to their words.
Consider Adam: The very first conversation he has with God after eating from the forbidden tree finds Adam blaming his wife, not himself. But look a little closer. Actually he was accusing God! ‘The woman You gave me…’ he says to God. Since Adam mankind is so prone to blame others and not ourselves. An irrefutable proof of our fallen human condition is our eagerness to defend ourselves, to shift the blame to someone else, to avoid admitting our guilt – all of which we do with words. Pointing the finger at someone else for our failure exposes the fact that we have lost control of our tongue.
You may say, ‘Well I was thinking that so I might as well say it.’ Wrong! Look again at the scripture we started with: “I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” What we say is what gets us in trouble. Perhaps we need to pray more often: ‘May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.’ Psalm 19:14
Consider Sarah: It was at her suggestion that Abraham slept with Hagar yet afterwards, Sarah gives Abraham a tongue-lashing. ‘You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering.’ Gen. 16:5 It’s a proven principle: those who carry within them the greatest sense of guilt are the ones who excel at inflicting guilt trips on others. Abraham and Sarah survived the crisis but her criticism put a strain on their marriage. The blame game always does that.
The words we say have more power than we realize. Our God created the entire universe with words. ‘Let there be…’ We are made in His image and likeness; is it any wonder that our words also have power?
Of all of creation, we are the ones with the power of speech….like God. It was bestowed on us that we might praise and worship our Creator, not for the purpose of cutting other people down. We live in a world polluted by coarse, haughty and wicked speech. As God’s people we are called to be different and a major evidence that you and I belong to the Lord is expressed by the way we talk.
Let’s each of us take responsibility for our tongues, repent for words we’ve spoken that have not reflected the Lord Who called us, and ask Him for grace to bring our tongues under His control.
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