Watch Your Mouth!September 5-9
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. – Proverbs 17:9 (ESV)
The story is told of three pastors who went fishing together in the northern wilderness of Canada.
While there they became quite cordial with one another and began to talk about their innermost thoughts. One confessed that he had been guilty of certain sins. He named them, then he urged the other two to confess their weaknesses. The second pastor confessed that he too had certain weaknesses and recounted them in detail. The third pastor remained silent for a long time. Finally, when pressed by his fellow elders to reveal his weaknesses, he said, “Brethren, I don’t think you want to know my weaknesses, but since you insist, I am going to tell you. I just love to gossip, and I can hardly wait to get home.”
On Sunday, Pastor Jim talked about the power of the tongue. Proverbs 17:9 mentions explicitly the power of gossip. Gossip has the power to destroy close friendships. We’ve all witnessed the hurt that can be caused when people begin to spread gossip about others. A loving friend can be trusted to keep confidences and to be a safe place for vulnerability.
Bill Gothard suggests that we should ask five questions before listening to a carrier of an evil report:
- What is your reason for telling me?
- Where did you get your information?
- Have you gone to those directly involved?
- Have you personally checked out all of the facts?
- Can I quote you if I check this out?
Praise God for the people in your life who can be trusted when you need to be vulnerable. Ask God to quickly convict you when you are about to spread gossip about someone else.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. – Proverbs 17:14 (ESV)
The newspaper reported a tragic incident of violence that took place in a South American country. A peasant killed his best friend while they were arguing about political differences. When asked why he did it, he replied with these chilling words: “We began peacefully, and then we argued. I killed him when I ran out of words.”
This tragedy calls to mind Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 about the close connection between anger and murder. Jesus warned that malicious anger, like murder, would be punished by God. The author of proverbs compares anger to releasing water and trying to contain it. We should all take a close look at our inner rage. We might think we can control it. Unfortunately, though, our feelings of hostility often control us and cause us to do things we would never do while thinking clearly. Not all anger is wrong. But all wrong anger needs to be acknowledged and confessed before it leads to “murder.” —Mart De Haan
How do you typically handle conflict? Would the people closest to you say that you have a bad temper? What area of your life is it hardest for you to control your temper?
Thank God for not pouring out His anger on you but instead offering you mercy and forgiveness. Ask God to help you control anger where it’s most difficult for you.
Silence is a Virtue
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. – Proverbs 17:27-28 (ESV)
It is a wise thing to say as little as possible to man, and as much as possible to God. The ultimate test of friendship has always seemed to me to be in the ability of true friends to be silent in each other’s presence. In silence, we best may open the heart to receive the infillings of the Divine Spirit. When people are always talking to one another, even though they talk about God, they are liable to lose the first fresh sense of God’s presence.
We all have spoken too much of ourselves, or too little of Christ, or too much about others; or too much about worldly things. Besides, it is only in silence and thought that our deepest life matures, or the impressions of eternity are realized. Speak as little as you may. Be slow to speak, and swift to hear.
Do you know anyone who seems always to be talking? What are your impressions about their talkativeness? Are there times when you could speak but choose not to?
Praise God for the things that can only be learned in silence. Ask God to help you carefully choose your words when you are tempted to say too much.
Stones in the Mouth
A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. – Proverbs 18:6 (ESV)
We would all cringe at the thought of a mouth full of gravel. But a stone in the mouth can actually be desirable—at least that seems true for the cranes that inhabit the Taurus mountains of southern Turkey. These cranes tend to cackle a lot, especially while flying. All that noise gets the attention of eagles, who swoop down and seize them for a meal. The experienced cranes avoid this threat by picking up large stones to fill their mouths. This prevents them from cackling—and from becoming lunch for the eagles.
People have a problem with their mouths too. The writer of Proverbs said, “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (13:3). “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” (18:6). (Richard De Haan)
How many of our troubles could be prevented if we would learn to control our tongues? How much of the heartache that we cause for others could be avoided if we would guard our speech?
Prayer: Lord, help me watch the words I say. And keep them few and sweet, For I don’t know from day to day, Which ones I’ll have to eat. —Anon.
Spiritual Warfare: Destroying Strongholds
From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. – Proverbs 18:20-21 (ESV)
Mrs. Grumpty complained bitterly because her friends seemed to avoid her, and she just couldn’t understand why. If only she could have heard a recording of her own voice, she would have known the reason for her unpopularity. She always talked about her complaints, weaknesses, aches, and pains, and insisted on relating in wearying detail her stay in the hospital. If you want to keep friends, don’t be a grumbler. Most people have enough problems and don’t need to hear all of yours.
In one of the churches I pastored, a dear old soul expected me to visit her at least once a week. I don’t know of a visit in my entire ministry that I dreaded as much as that one. Every week she insisted on entertaining me with a recital of her five surgeries. She never expressed happiness and joy for her current good health or her remarkable recovery, but she always went back to her days of suffering. She seemed to “enjoy” poor health. Incidentally, she lived many more years. She reminds me of the saying: “A creaking wagon will last the longest.” Today, fix your eyes on the doughnut, not on the hole. Share your joys with others, and leave your troubles with the Lord. —M. R. De Haan, M.D.
Proverbs 18 teaches us we can make the world a better place or a worse place by the words we say. We can destroy people and relationships or we can give them life with our words. Who was the last person you complained to? Who was the last person you encouraged with your words?
Thank God for giving you powerful words. Ask God to lead you to someone who needs to hear encouraging words today.