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Part 4, Zip Those Lips!

“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Proverbs 10:19 NLT

Ever had one of those moments in life when a loved one or girlfriend sought your advice, then turned around and did exactly what you had warned against? To make matters worse, you responded with the never-ending tirade of questions and the numerous reasons why she should have listened to you. The more you spoke, the worse it got. She was feeling great remorse, but you just kept crushing her spirit into the ground. I must confess; I have been guilty of such talk.

Chances are I’m not alone. After all, we women need to speak on average about 20,000 words a day, you know. However, that doesn’t excuse what Proverbs calls a sin producer – too much talk! Like today’s verse, sometimes we need to zip our lips.

A similar temptation we often face is what I’ll call ‘whispering words’. You know, those juicy bits of gossip someone shares and before you know it, you’re doing  the same thing in the name of a prayer request. We would be wise to heed the warning

in Proverbs 26:22 NASB:

 

“The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts  of the body.”

 

Just like a delicious piece of chocolate pecan toffee or a delectable bite of cheesecake that we savor and swallow, so are our whispering words. They go deep into the heart of the hearer. Before we damage another person’s reputation, we would be wise to hold our tongues.

Oftentimes, we mean well in our verbosity. We so want to help, but instead we may be guilty of quenching the work of the Holy Spirit. Oswald Chambers shares some wise counsel in My Utmost for His Highest – Aug. 1st:

          Are we playing the spiritual amateur providence in other lives? Are we so noisy in our   instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them? We have to keep our mouths   shut and our spirits alert.

The next time you find yourself lending a listening ear for a troubled soul, ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment. He will give you the words if you need to speak; He will also help you hold your tongue if you need to keep quiet. Beloved sisters, let’s be found sensible as we watch what we say.

[Digging deeper – Prov. 13:3, 17:27-28, 21:23, 26:20; Eccl. 3:7b]

Zipping the lips,

Beverly <><

Part 3, Good Mouth, Bad Mouth

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”
Proverbs 10:11 NASB

Because there are over one hundred verses relating to the mouth, lips, tongue, and speech found in Proverbs, it’s impossible to cover the wealth of information in five short doses. So, hang with me as I attempt to whet your appetite to do further study on your own. With that in mind, I want to zoom in on chapter 10 of Proverbs and compare the mouth of the righteous to that of the wicked and foolish person.

We read in Matthew 15:18 that the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart. If in my very being I focus on God, then according to verses in Proverbs 10, my upright speech is like a fountain of life (vs. 11). It flows with wisdom (vs. 13, 31), is like choice silver (vs. 20), feeds many (vs. 21), and brings forth what is acceptable (vs. 32).

On the flip side, a heart focused on self and the world is more likely to let unkind, hurtful, and shameful words spew forth. The foolish, wicked mouth hides violence (vs. 6, 11), brings ruin (vs. 14), will be cut out (vs. 31), and is perverted (vs. 32). Let’s avoid these pitfalls at all costs by never letting sin go unchecked in our lives. Thank goodness, we serve a merciful God who forgives us when we confess our sins. Unlike having our mouths simply washed out with soap, His cleansing goes all the way to the heart.

One last thought and I close. Have you ever been burned by fire? I remember checking the broiler of a gas stove and having a blast of flames hit me in the face. It about scared me to death! A quick check revealed singed hair around my temples, as well as my eyebrows and eyelashes; the face was a little pink and tender. My point is this: fire can hurt, destroy, wound, and produce fear.

“A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are like scorching fire.” Proverbs 16:27 NASB

How careful we should be to avoid letting our words become a devastating inferno. Instead, let’s strive daily with God’s help to speak with a pure heart, bringing grace, life, healing, and peace to those around us.

“All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; There is nothing crooked or perverted in      them.” Proverbs 8:8 NASB

[Digging deeper – Psalm 37:30; Prov. 11:9a, 12:6, 15:2, 28; 16:13b, 23; James 3:5-10]

Speaking rightly,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

Part 2, Fitting Words for Unfitting Moments

“Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!”
Prov. 15:23 NLT

The silent atmosphere in the truck between Emory and me was tense. Miscommunication and assumption on both our parts had resulted in raised voices, heightened emotions, and blame. What had started out as a fun errand had turned into a sullied stand-off. Apologies and forgiveness were eventually given, but our careless words over an insignificant disagreement had been anything but right!

Our focus today will be on Proverbs 15. In this single chapter, we find several verses pertaining to the mouth and the good or bad it can bring in adverse situations with others. The choice is ours.

“Pleasant words are pure.” (vs. 26b, NASB).

Sounds simple enough, right? Yet, in the heat of the moment, our words are often anything but pure, much less pleasant. This simple instruction says not only do we need to be careful of what we say, but how we say it. Our words need to be clean, wholesome, and untainted. Likewise, if given in a welcome tone and humble attitude, others are more likely to receive them.

Verse 28 offers some how-to help for verse 26 –

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

If you are a believer, then you are righteous because of what Jesus did on the cross for you. In the midst of conflict, turn to Him for strength to hold your tongue as you purposefully consider how you should respond. This doesn’t come easy for most of us. It takes practice and willingness to give up being right or having the last say in a dispute.

The following verses in Proverbs 15 offer two more options for us to consider.

 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath” (vs. 1a), and

“A soothing tongue is a tree of life” (vs. 4a)

– OR –

 

“…a harsh word stirs up anger” (vs.1b), and

 

 

 

“… perversion in it crushes the spirit” (vs. 4b).

Gentle and soothing is so much better than harsh and perverted, don’t you think? And who wouldn’t choose peace and life over anger and wounds? It takes maturity and discipline to contemplate and think before speaking. Yet, you can do it with God’s help!

I challenge you to consider the benefits of a ‘fitting reply’ and the joy it brings when we have right words to give. Let’s be life-givers, not life-crushers.

[Digging deeper – Ps. 141:3; Prov. 24:26, 25:11; 1 Peter 3:15]

Pondering my words,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: Images courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net