"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." - Proverbs 13:3 (NIV)
There are times when I regret what comes out of my mouth. Sometimes immediately, sometimes later when I actually think about what I said. Hard as I try, I don't always think before I speak. Speaking without thinking is cute in small children; it comes with the territory of being a child. Their "filters" aren't in place yet. It's not cute in an older child, teenager or adult. Then it can be hurtful and cause a lot of harm, not just to the person it was said to but also to the person who said it. Case in point: when I was in Junior High, a friend (?) of mine dared me to call another girl a bad name on the bus. Out loud. At the top of my voice. So....I took that dare! (I don't know why; brains don't function in Junior High...just ask any person who teaches that age group!!) I didn't know whether or not it was true. What I do know is that it was hurtful to her. And, because she beat me up after we got off the bus, it was very painful for me!! (I admit...I deserved it!). I did learn my lesson, though, and never did that again. But, I shouldn't have said it to begin with. I regret it to this day, and not just because I got beat up!
God wants us to filter our words through Him. He expects us to think before we speak. James 1:19 (NIV) says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Good advice. I know when I'm angry, I don't stop to think of the impact my words have. I just want to get them out and make my point. I don't care if they cause pain, at least not at that point in time. If they tear down the person I'm mad at, so be it. But that's not what God intends. In Ephesians 4:9 (NIV), He tells me this: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." So, even when I'm angry, God expects me to stop and think about what I'm going to say before I say it. Are the words I want to say going to be encouraging or are they going to be hurtful? Can I say what I want to say in a way that is kind and not hateful? Do I need to keep this to myself? I've seen plaques that say: Lord, keep Your arm around my shoulder and Your hand over my mouth. I need to ask the Lord to do this for me on a daily basis!!
I attempt to speak to others the way I want to be spoken to. I want to be kind and encouraging. My words can have a powerful impact on others, just as their words can have a powerful impact on me. It's all in what I say and how I say it. I'm asking God to put His hand over my mouth whenever I feel the need to say something that isn't pleasing to Him. Then I can be a reflection of the love He has for all of us.
“If someone were to pay you 10 cents for every kind word you ever spoke and collect from you 5 cents for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?” - Unknown source
Dear Lord, please guard my tongue today. Make my words pleasing to You. I want to honor You today, Lord, by carefully and lovingly choosing the words I speak. Please place Your loving hand over my mouth when I feel the need to say something hurtful or unkind. Let me be a source of encouragement to every man, woman and child I come into contact with. May I think before I speak and not speak in anger. I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.