Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
This is sound advice and a theme that appears numerous times in the Bible. Prophets from the Old and New Testament speak of guarding the words the come out of your mouth. I have written a number of posts on this subject and I thought I would touch on it again.
I know in my life words spoken in haste have brought the most strife and sorrow. Hastily spoken words have moved me away from righteousness more than any other actions in my life. I have more regret for words said than those left unsaid.
In the Old Testament, King Solomon spoke of choosing your words wisely and realized there is a time to speak and a time to shut up. Mostly it’s a time to shut up. I wrote about this lesson in “My Favorite Lessons From Proverbs”. Here are just four examples of King Solomon sharing the wisdom of keeping your mouth shut.
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
A fool’s lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.
A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.
In the New Testament the apostle Matthew tells us to not run around flapping our gums about how wonderful we are and reminding everyone how righteous and caring we are. (You Can’t Talk Your Way Into Heaven).
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
James lets us know just how much this little thing in our mouths can control and maneuver us down the path of sin.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
James tells us to be quiet and listen, and to understand before we decide to shoot off our mouths. Words can lead to anger and anger leads to sin.
In the verses sited at the top of this post King David is expressing the same sentiment even before the reign of Solomon and well before the times of James and Matthew.
Your school teachers were correct when they told you that you can’t listen if you don’t shut your mouth. And you can’t learn if you don’t listen.
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