Weighing Our Words
"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." ~ Proverbs 13:3 (NIV)
The first time I read the Bible from cover to cover, the Holy Spirit had a running theme going with me. I saw a commonality throughout the Scriptures that the words I speak do matter and that I should pay careful attention to them. This was a Scripture I really thought about for quite a while. Our words have weight behind them and can lead to victory or ruin in our lives.
Guard My Words
What does setting a guard over my lips actually entail? The Hebrew word for guard is natsar. This is a verb that means:
1) to guard, watch, watch over, keep
1) to watch, guard, keep
2) to preserve, guard from dangers
3) to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
4) to guard, keep secret
5) to be kept close, be blockaded
6) watchman (participle)
Guarding my words involves carefully considering what I say. Wisdom, discretion and motive are things to be considered here.
I have to ask myself if what I have to say is something someone really needs to know. Some of the words that are so easy to speak are actually things that should be closely kept, guarded as a matter of wisdodm, discretion and motive, perhaps because someone has asked us not to say anything or through wisdom we know that discretion dictates not telling everything we know just to be saying it, especially when the motive is just chatter.
How can we keep our words so closely to our hearts? I think the outline of biblical usage for guard as mentioned above is key. We do what it says.
Watch, keep, guard, preserve, keep close, blockade...
Speaking rashly can cause a downfall in our lives more quickly than anything else. If we utter profanity, we lose our witness. If we gossip or slander someone, there's a great chance it will get back to them before we know it.
Rashly speaking hurts not only ourselves but those we love and those we have other types of relationships with.
The Hebrew word for rash is pasaq. This verb means:
1) to part, open wide
1) to open wide
2) to be talkative (of the mouth)
b) (Piel) to open wide
Is it easier to hold our tongues when our mouths are open or closed? Closed, of course. We should keep the lid on rash talk. But how?
I think it is vital to pray before we begin our day or to go into meetings, even before answering the phone or chatting with friends, whether in person or online. One prayer I pray every time I go to meet with friends is this verse:
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." ~ Psalm 19:14 (NIV)
Do I always have victory in this area of my life? This bear looks ashamed. So am I sometimes. But I'm striving toward victory!
Besides prayer, we need to check our self-control meter. We should temper our words and lack of self-control in this area if we are struggling. Most of all, we need to purpose in our hearts that each and every one of the words we speak will glorify God and bring Him honor, not discredit Him to others who are watching and listening to the example we set.
S - self-control is so important in guarding the words we speak
P - Pray about the words you say, do they honor God, do they honor others, do they need to be shared at all
E - Expect fallbacks - we are not perfect, but we can be forgiven
A - Always count to 10 before you share something or respond to something "questionable"
K - Kindness goes such a long way in setting an example for others to follow
I - Invite God to be your mouthpiece before you begin your day
N - Notice the speech of those around you - it can rub off on you
G - Grumbling mouths are a sign of grumbling hearts
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