Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Week Twenty - Well, Shut My Mouth!

Beside the Well
            There they go, words tumbling out, with all the odor of a filthy sewer, revealing the thoughts of your heart to everyone in earshot. Forget putting your foot in your mouth; this tastes much worse!  Even eating crow might be more palatable than having to consume these words again.
            Our tongues are a deadly poison.  James 3 paints a rather bleak picture calling them an unruly evil, untamable, a kindler of fire, and something that sullies our whole body.
            So, what’s a person to do?  Never speak again?  Learn sign language? Limit yourself to texting?  I’m afraid none of those will make a successful guard against the ugliness that vomits from our hearts.
            However, God does have a few suggestions for us.  First, keep a watch.  James 3:14 “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.”  Be honest with yourself about anger and jealousy you feel.  Don’t be deceived.  God knows what is in your heart, and if you aren’t watchful, it will come out your mouth.  
            Psalm 139:23, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.”  Ask the Lord to show you your heart’s flaws, and where your thoughts lead you to a precarious precipice. Keep yourself in check.
            And, God says, “put your hand upon your mouth.” (Proverbs 30:32) In Job 21:5, Job says the same thing to his critical friends.  And the same phrase is found in Judges 18:19, Micah 7:16, Job 29:9 and Job 40:4. 
            What does it mean?  It means to put your hand on your mouth before letting ugly, maligning words come out—to stop yourself.  Ecclesiastes 5:6 says, “Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin.”  Just don’t do it!
            When we look at the whole verse in Proverbs 30:32, God gives us two forewarnings, “If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, (pride) or if thou hast thought evil, (bad thoughts) lay thine hand upon thy mouth.”  These are warning signals.
            So, when I hear my inner voice saying things like, “I know more about that than they do.”  “I’ve got a bigger or better story than that.”  I need to recognize pride at work in my heart and put my hand on my mouth before conceited words come tumbling out. 
            When I feel a rush of emotion with a desire to get even, wound or trample someone with my words, those are cruel thoughts no one needs to hear.  It’s time to pull my hand out of my pocket and cover my lips while I pray for forgiveness and self-control. 
            It’s quite a challenge, but a spiritual discipline worth cultivating!

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