“Watch your mouth.” Has anyone ever said that to you before? It’s usually a stern warning from a parent to a child who says the wrong thing at the wrong time. We might think of the famous scene in A Christmas Story that ends with Ralphie getting his mouth washed out with soap. “Watch your mouth.” It might sound harsh, but we can imagine the Sage of Ecclesiastes giving this warning. God wants us to watch our mouths. Consider these proverbs:
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” (Proverbs 17:27) “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19) Why does God want us to watch our mouths? Because our words are powerful (Proverbs 11:11). Because, with our mouths, we praise God (Psalm 71:23). Because our mouths are windows into our hearts (Matthew 12:34). And because pure hearts enjoy intimacy with God (Matthew 5:8). This week, keep watch over your mouth. Observe what comes out, and what that says about what’s going on inside your heart. If you see bitterness, anger, or resentment rising to the surface, turn to God in repentance and faith. Keep watch over your words for the sake of your witness, so that our neighbors see that our faith makes a difference. Keep watch over your words for the sake of your faith, so that you can commune with God with a pure heart and pure lips. For reflection: — Read James 3. What does James say about our words and where they come from? — Do a quick word search through the Bible about these words: lips, mouth, pure heart, and speech. (You can search the whole Bible for key words like this at biblegateway.com.) What does the Bible say about our words, mouths, and hearts? — Consider your habits. Are you prone to unwise, harsh, or uncharitable speech? What is driving your speech habits? — Turn your mouth to prayer. When you see yourself giving in to unwise speech, ask God for help. Confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, pray for power over your words, and begin to praise God.