Personal Renovation Day 3 – Set a Guard Over My Mouth
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!” (Psalm 141:3-4, ESV)
“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! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” (James 3:3-6, ESV)
Now that we’ve worked through our internal needs (the heart and the mind), let’s move to the external. Well, truthfully, the mouth is a bit of both. Our words come from our innermost being but have the most effect on the world around us. The older I get the more I realize how inaccurate the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” truly is when it comes to our well-being. Our words have the power to build someone up or break them down, and far too often we do the latter.
When it comes to guarding our mouths, it is crucial that we start with our hearts and minds. If our hearts are filled with hate and hurt and our minds are overwhelmed with insecurities and worldly opinions, there is no way we can effectively hold our tongues. As cliché as it may be, it’s true that hurt people hurt people. Words that break a heart come from the brokenhearted. Words are the true litmus test of our spiritual condition. So, what can we do?
Our first step to a tamed tongue is to fill ourselves with Christ. When our main source of consumption is the Word, it is bound to pour back out of us. A heart regularly cleansed and a mind filled with the Scriptures are our main tools. We can also do just as the Psalmist did and ask God to help us guard our mouths. Self-control is the fruit of the Spirit, so we know that holding our tongues is a God-given ability. We can and should ask God directly to cleanse our hearts, refocus our minds, and tame our tongues.
Once we’ve begun the process of rewiring our brains and obtaining self-control with our speech, it is also important to acknowledge our shortcomings. As sinful creatures we are bound to make mistakes, whether that be speaking in anger or even just speaking with limited knowledge. We will make errors with our tongues, but with our tongues we can also patch up the holes. Admitting our wrongs and offering sincere apologies are crucial to unity among believers. An apology may not remove all the pain words have caused, but genuine repentance can be the beginning of healing.
Make it a habit to think before you speak. We are all guilty of speaking too quickly or jumping to conclusions. We can all benefit from slowing down, allowing time to process, and not letting every thought escape our lips. It takes time and practice, but it is possible to learn how to be more thoughtful with our words and actions.
My challenge to you today is that you would slow down. Allow Scripture to become engrained in your heart and mind. Allow God to place a guard over your mouth. Think harder about what you are going to say before saying it. Consider God and His grace. The more our hearts and minds are set on Him, the more our words will reflect Him.