Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:3, GWT).
Friend to Friend
I recently received an email from a friend who told me the story of a private school in Washington that faced an unusual problem. Some of the12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would gather around the mirrors in the bathroom to compare shades and apply their lipstick.
The girls thought it was cute to then press their lips to the bathroom mirrors, leaving dozens of lip prints. The maintenance man did not think it was cute because he had to clean the mirrors – and you know how icky lipstick on a mirror can be.
Every night the maintenance man would remove the lipstick prints only to find that the girls put them back the next day.
The principal finally decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all the lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors.
The principal then asked the maintenance man to demonstrate what he had to do to remove the lipstick and how much effort was required. A stunned silence fell across the bathroom as the weary maintenance man took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror. There has not been a single lip print left on the mirror since that day.
We read that story and think it is both funny and repulsive. Yet the words we speak often carry the same kind of filth. We need to be speaking life – not death into other people. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But when we criticize and put others down, when we gossip about others, we are speaking destruction into their lives.
Unless strained through discipline and holiness, words can impart false perspectives and untruths. But the right word, spoken at the right time and in the right way can bring order in the midst of confusion, light on a very dark path, and wisdom where there is foolishness.
I believe God gives us spiritual radar so we can assess a situation and speak the right word for that circumstance. In fact, Paul writes, “Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone” (Colossians 4:6, NLT)).
Solomon also offers great wisdom concerning the use of words, “Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3, GWT).
“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies” (Psalm 34:13, NIV).
The word “keep” indicates an action on our part. We decide. We choose what is allowed to take up room in our mind. It is literally the idea of a guard standing at the gate of the city, stationed there to keep watch. He is there by invitation only. If we want to live right and speak right – we must think right, constantly guarding our mind. And that is not all. We must guard our heart as well.
Godly responses come from the heart. If there is something wrong with our words, then there is something wrong with our heart. The truth of Proverbs 16:23 is profound in its simplicity, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.”
Words are powerful.
Words can destroy or build.
We need to make the choice today – to respond in the right way to angry or hurtful words that are surely headed our way tomorrow. If we do not learn to use and control our tongue, it will use and control us. We need to choose our words carefully
Join me in a commitment to set our hearts and minds on speaking words of life every time we have the opportunity to do so.
Father, I want to please You by encouraging others with the words I speak. Clean my heart, God. Transform my mind and fill my mouth with words that honor You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Examine the words you have spoken today in light of the following verse:
”May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NIV).
How did you do? I encourage you to memorize this verse. Ask God to let its truth take root in your heart and work its way out in the words you speak.
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