Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
(Psalm 141:3 ESV)
Such a small part of our bodies, the tongue is. Yet it can do so much damage under the control (or lack thereof) we provide it. I was a victim of my own lack of control yesterday as I tore a strip off my eldest in the midst of our bible study for spilling milk onto his sister’s page. His ears and face burned as he received the tongue lashing and proceeded to meekly clean up the mess.
What have I done? Such a young and tender heart, looking to his mother for wisdom and guidance throughout the day. Me, having just uttered the words of Jesus’ servant heart to his disciples. How quickly my words turned from love to bitterness and anger. It brings a whole new meaning to this verse from James 3:10 –
From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
I know I am quick, too quick, too often, to cut to the quick with my words. When tiredness and frustration are allowed to rule, this is the result. When I lean on my own strength, rushing through the day, forgetting to lean on the one whose well of might never runs dry, this is where I too easily fall.
We’re reading through Job with Hello Mornings. We’re at the point where Job’s friends try to tell him what he’s done wrong, and spend a good deal of time explaining his sin to him. Job’s response to them
Then Job answered and said: “How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words?
(Job 19:1-2 ESV)
Words can tear, bite, destroy, break down – or build up, encourage, pour forth love and peace. Lord, I need more of you and less of me. More of your power, strength and might, and less of my selfishness and impatience.
The important thing was that after I allowed those angry words to leave my tongue, I followed them up with repentance before the Lord, and my children. My words spoke peace as I asked them to forgive me, and they so graciously gave their forgiveness.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Last week Erin from Home With The Boys wrote about how she was going to fight back – less yelling and more praying. She’s using a great little prayer app to keep scripture verses close at hand for when those moments of boiling over are about to commence. She’s encouraged me to do the same! Because in those hot moments, God’s word can be difficult to remember, I’m keeping it close so I can allow His Spirit to guard my mouth.
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer
Satan’s on a leash. He will attack you, but he’s only allowed to go so far as the Lord permits. You are responsible for your actions, not he. How will you respond when you come to the boiling point? What can you do to help diffuse the situation? I know I need a mouth guard – what do you need to do?