Lord, help me recognize the power of what comes out of my mouth. Help me use my mouth as an instrument of preservation for myself and those around me.
Read: Proverbs 14:3 (NIV)
“A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.”
The tongue is a powerful thing. Ever stop to consider the tongue is the only thing that connects the inner man to the world around him? Matthew 12:34 (NIV) says that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”. Naturally, the mouth or tongue of a proud person says things about themselves without regard to others. Often things spoken out of pride come back to bite us, rarely do we benefit from them. Think about it, when was the last time you clearly said something out of pride? Was there any real benefit in doing so? Not likely. We usually end up looking foolish or embarrassing ourselves or we end up hurting someone else’s feelings. What is interesting about the verse above is that some translations make the harm done to yourself through proud speech explicit. The English Standard Version says, “By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.” We must not underestimate the potential harm the mouth is capable of. James paints a dramatic picture of the power of the untamed tongue in James 3:6 where he describes the tongue as being capable of setting the course of one’s life on fire. Setting your life on fire is in stark contrast to the protection afforded to those who are wise.
Given the tremendous power for both good and evil by the tongue, we must learn to control it. What is very interesting about the mouth/tongue is that very little advice is offered for how to control it. In fact, James says that no man can tame the tongue! The reason there is little advice offered is that the tongue is not responsible for what comes out of our mouths but only carries the message that comes from the heart. The key to taming the proud tongue is to cure the proud heart. We must become people who are humble so that humility naturally comes out of our mouths. The only one capable of producing or exchanging a proud heart for one that is humble is God. If your mouth is causing a lot of destruction and very little protection, then ask God to change your heart. Some of the results of a changed heart are referred to in the Bible as Fruits of the Spirit, two of which are kindness and self-control, and both will go a long way in preserving our lives and the lives of others. Be mindful this week of what comes out of your mouth. Is it pride or wisdom? Does it lift you up or does it lift others up? What does your speech say about your heart?
God, grant me humility, kindness and self-control that I may utter words that build your kingdom and your people.