Test Your Words

  • Oct. 23, 2017
  • #9256

Guard your tongue so you will not dishonor God with hastily spoken words.

Test your words

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a word… about words.

And the good word is from Psalm 141, verse 3, where it says, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Like me, I'm sure you’ve read that verse many times, but of all the things over which we lack self-control, it is our words. Wouldn’t you agree? Because it happens so often; you're itching to say something, but before you double-check your words against the Holy Spirit, you let the sentence slip. You drop a precisely-timed phrase that manipulates or you toss a few flirting words that entice or you aim a verbal barb that stings. You send a signal that you dare not be crossed.

Whatever the message, you've hit the target with your words, and someone's reputation has been slandered, a heart has become divided. Feelings have been crushed, and a testimony is compromised. A spirit is badly bruised. But Psalm 141 goes even deeper than words. The psalmist asked for God's help in setting a guard over his mouth. Because you can communicate so much with an expression, right? Pursed lips, tight lips, a little down-turn in the corner of your mouth can wound a person without you even speaking a word. Nevertheless, the Psalm says we are accountable. Just the other day, I was inwardly so ticked at Ken (now I hadn’t said anything; in fact, I would have sworn that my face was entirely devoid of any expression)! But that’s exactly what Ken noticed—when he pointed out my expression and asked why I was mad. I challenged him. I said, “I'm not mad.” But he countered, “Joni, just like you know me and my expressions, I know yours. Thirty-five years of marriage just does that. So why are you so peeved? What’s up?” What can I say? He had me nailed.

You know, someone once prayed, "Before I move, before I speak, perfect wisdom I will seek." That is good advice for Christians who ignore the Spirit's prompting and proceed to be slow to hear and swift to speak. Matthew Henry builds on that prayer when he says, "Since my lips are the door to my words, let grace keep that door that no word may go out which in any way dishonors God or hurts others."

And in case you still think a few subtle words can't do that much harm, let the following from James Chapter 3, verse 6 serve as a warning. Because the Holy Spirit tells us, "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." Yikes! The Bible thinks our tongues are a world of evil, and mind you, James Chapter 3 was being written to Christians—people like you and me. Our tongues are set on fire by hell itself? Oh please, help me Jesus to put a guard on my mouth and a door on my lips. And if I need another reminder, Proverbs Chapter 13 says, "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." My mind, my will, and emotions are dangerously exposed to ruin when I say things with an impure or hurtful motive. So before you speak, ask yourself: "Will what I say hurt or help? Will it glorify God? Would I be ashamed if others heard me?" Oh, and speaking of words, don’t forget to contact us at joniandfriends.org/radio today to receive my booklet “God's Word on Disability.” And finally, pray with me: ‘Oh Jesus, before I move, before I speak, perfect wisdom I will seek and I’ll do it today’.    

© Joni and Friends

 

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