Pastor Paul’s Weekly Article: Careful Commentary

“Whoever guards his mouth & tongue keeps his soul from troubles”

Proverbs 21:23 (NASB95)

The Bible speaks frequently about our need to control our tongues. Most of us find this very difficult to do (see James 3:1-12). It is even harder when others have said evil things to us or about us. Our fleshly reaction is often to return the favor by saying mean things to them or by spreading bad things about them to others. On Sunday morning we will learn much about this in 1 Peter 3:8-12, but in preparation for that study, please read the following story and the Bible verses below. Ask the Lord to help all of us control our tongues and use our words to bless people and point them to Jesus. 

One day a certain woman said something that hurt her longtime best friend. She regretted it immediately and would have done anything to take the words back. But they were said. Impulsively, in a moment of thoughtlessness, and as close as she and her friend were, she didn’t consider the effects of her words beforehand. What she said hurt the friend so much that this good woman was herself hurt for the pain she caused. In her effort to undo what she had done, she went to an older, wiser woman in the village, explained her situation, and asked for advice. The older woman listened patiently in an effort to determine just how sincere the younger woman was, and how far she was willing to go to correct the situation. She explained that sometimes, in order put things back in order, great efforts must be made.

She then asked: “Just what would you be willing to do to repair the harm done?”

“Anything,” was the heartfelt answer.

Listening to her, the older woman, sensed the younger woman’s distress and knew she must help her.

She said, “There are two things needed to be done to make amends. The first of the two is extremely difficult. Tonight, take your best feather pillows and open a small hole in each one. Then, before the sun rises, you must put a single feather on the doorstep of each house in town. When you are through, come back to me. If you’ve done the first thing completely, I’ll tell you the second.”

The young woman hurried home to prepare for her chore. All night long she labored alone in the cold. She went from doorstep to doorstep, taking care not to overlook a single house. Her fingers were frozen, and the wind was so sharp it caused her eyes to water, but she ran on, through the darkened streets, thankful there was something she could do to put things back the way they once were. Finally, as the sky was getting light, she placed the last feather on the steps of the last house. Just as the sun rose, she returned to the older woman. She was exhausted but relieved that her efforts would be rewarded.

“My pillows are empty. I placed a feather on the doorstep of each home.”

“Go back and refill your pillows,” said the wise woman. “Then everything will be as it was before.”

The young woman was stunned.

“You know that’s impossible! The wind blew away each feather as fast as I placed them on the doorstep! You didn’t say I had to get them back! If this is the second requirement, then things will never be the same.”

“That’s true”, said the older woman. “Never forget. Each of your words is like a feather in the wind. Once spoken, no amount of effort, regardless how heartfelt or sincere, can ever return them to your mouth. Choose your words well, and guard them most of all in the presence of those you love.” 

One of the most difficult lessons to learn is when to remain silent. Below are some principles that can guide us in this arena. Please look up the verses, meditate upon the principles, and then apply them in your relationships this week. May the Lord cause us all to use words carefully to build people up and draw them nearer to Jesus (Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:5-6).

Don’t open your mouth:

  1. In the heat of anger – Proverbs 14:17
  2. When you don’t have all the facts – Proverbs 18:13
  3. When you haven’t verified the story – Deuteronomy 17:6
  4. If your words will offend a weaker person – 1 Corinthians 8:11
  5. When it is time to listen – Proverbs 13:1
  6. When you are tempted to make light of holy things – Ecclesiastes 5:2
  7. When you are tempted to joke about sin – Proverbs 14:9
  8. If you would be ashamed of your words later – Proverbs 8:8
  9. If your words would convey the wrong impression – Proverbs 17:27
  10. If the issue is none of your business – Proverbs 14:10
  11. When you are tempted to tell an outright lie – Proverbs 4:24
  12. If your words will damage someone else’s reputation – Proverbs 16:27
  13. If your words will damage a friendship – Proverbs 16:28
  14. When you are feeling critical – James 3:9
  15. If you can’t say it without screaming it – Proverbs 25:28
  16. If your words will be a poor reflection of the Lord or your friends and family – I Peter 2:21-23
  17. If you may have to eat your words later – Proverbs 18:21
  18. If you have already said it more than one time – Proverbs 19:13
  19. When you are tempted to flatter a wicked person – Proverbs 24:24
  20. When you are supposed to be working instead – Proverbs 14:23

Pastor Paul

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