I have always been my biggest baddest enemy. When it comes to opening my mouth, eating more then my fair share of food, over exaggerating an event which occurred, overthinking things which don’t exist, at the end of the day it all boils down to me. The month of January was a time of dedicated prayer and fasting in our church. Every time we start out fasting I’m always like, “Yea!! Gonna bring down the strong holds, Satan your kingdom is coming down!!!” But then God begins to work on me. Ok this is not so much fun anymore. What about Satan’s big kingdom and all his little demons and stuff? You mean I could actually be the problem? (Gasp) Breaking strongholds begins with me? What’s going on here God? He slowly begins to reveal things in me which are not so Christ-like. He pulls out His big full length mirror under the bright lights and sometimes the reflection of what I see in His mirror is down right scary. I realize I have so much more work to do in this flesh and just how weak and insufficient I am without Him.
We were well into the 3rd week of fasting, I was at work and we had a large staff meeting. Honestly, I don’t know what came over me on this particular day, but I proceeded to open my mouth and say somethings which were not exactly uplifting and were taken very negatively, of which I immediately wish I had not said. I was not surprised when the next day I was pulled into my managers office to discuss my comments. While sitting there, my mind flashed back to when I was in grade school at a parent-teacher conference with my mom. All I could hear was my teacher telling my mom, “Margaret is a great student, BUT she is a very blunt child, and….” Here I am 25+ years later, sitting in my manager’s office and she is telling me the same exact thing. “Margaret, I know you mean well, BUT you are very blunt, and….” SIGH. Do I every learn? Do I ever really learn? Arrrggghhh
So after apologizing and trying to make amends over things I had said I began to really think about the words which come out of my mouth. My mind automatically went to Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” I knew my words had not been acceptable that day.
But how do I improve on this? How can the next time when I am in a situation where I feel as though I just have to speak my mind, keep my mouth shut? Progress is better than perfection, so I turned to His Word. I pulled out my Strong’s concordance and counted the number of times the following words were listed in the Bible and more specifically in Psalms and Proverbs: mouth, tongue, lips, and fool.
The word “mouth” is mentioned a total of 428 times in the Bible, of those 428 times, 64 are in the book of Psalms and 52 are in the book of Proverbs. The word “tongue” is mentioned a total of 129 times in the Bible, of those 129 times, 30 are in the book of Psalms and 19 are in the book of Proverbs. The word “lips” is mentioned a total of 119 times in the Bible, of those 119, 68 are found in Psalms and Proverbs. The word “fool” is mentioned a total of 66 times in the Bible and of those 66, 4 is in Psalms and 37 are in Proverbs.
God obviously really cares about our mouth (he talked about it 428 times), our tongue, our lips and making sure we don’t appear as fools when using them. What we say, how we say it, when we say it and to whom we say it to all matter. Doesn’t matter how much you go to church or how righteous you may appear on the outside, if you can’t control your mouth and your tongue you might as well throw the picture of holiness out the window.
Proverbs 13:3 “ He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
Proverbs 17:7 “Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.”
Psalm 39:1 – “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.”
While I realize there are times I wish I could take back every word I said, there is the reality that perhaps the words I speak are a mere reflection of what is truly in my heart. Scary thought I know. But as I was listening this week to the podcast, Entre Leadership, they were interviewing Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who wrote the book, Business Secrets from the Bible. He said something which struck me, “No matter where or who you are in life, your success will be a factor of your optimism.” No body wants to be around a pessimistic person.
If I am spewing pessimistic views and opinions out of my mouth, this is not only going to damage me today but far into my future. It doesn’t matter who or what has done me wrong or how unfair my situation might be, our response and attitude determine our success.
Praise is something else we do with our mouth. It is mentioned 248 times in the Bible and of those 248 times, 160 times are found in the book of Psalms. Wow! David knew praise was a powerful weapon.
This is why praise to God, the way we speak to and treat those around us is so pivotal in who we say we are and who we become. Praise to our God creates an optimistic mindset and atmosphere, the key to success in every aspect of our daily life, helping us to continually guard our mouth and tongue. In most situations I have come to realize, through great trial and error, that by simply remaining silent speaks loudest of all.
Proverbs 17:28 “ Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”
My prayer is simply this, “Lord help me today, every second of today, to say words which are acceptable in your sight, no matter the situation I might find myself in or the emotions I might be feeling.”