Summary: This second part focus’ on Proverbs practical wisdom in using our tongue positively.
For those who might be joining us for the first time our current series of sermons has been focusing on God’s wisdom in the book of Proverbs, which was written by one of the wisest persons who ever lived, Solomon. God wants us to grow in wisdom which basically means we are able to consistently make the right choice in every circumstance because wisdom comes from God.
Last week we focused on the first half of our memory verse from Proverbs 12:18, “reckless words which pierce like a sword.” Solomon in his Proverbs included many ways we use our words recklessly such as through gossip, lying or deceiving others, speaking in anger, speaking selfishly or pridefully, complaining, foul language or swearing, abusive words. As Christians, who follow Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit, what comes out of our mouth should reflect our faith. Yet unfortunately this is not always true, our mouth tends to run off and get us in trouble. Jesus told us that the real problem is not with our mouth, it is with our heart, “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Mt. 12:34).” If we’re having problems controlling our mouth, it’s because something is wrong in our heart. We have a heart problem. Last week we asked God to reveal to us where we have used our mouths recklessly and have pierced others like a sword with our words. We asked for God’s forgiveness, and then we invited God to change our heart because only God can change the inside. If God is speaking to you today about your mouth I pray that you would do the same and invite God into your life to change your heart.
This week we are moving toward the second half of our memory verse which says, “the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Today we are going to look at how we can Master our Mouth so we can use it the way God intended it to be used, to bring healing, or to help others. Solomon gave some very practical advice on Mastering our Mouth, in fact you may find his wisdom overly simplistic however as simple as it is, we still don’t practice it very often.
I. Wisdom for Mastering our Mouth
1. Hold Your Tongue
How many times have we opened our mouth right away only to put our foot in it? Like the guy who saw his wife in huge curlers and asked, “What happened to your hair?” She replied “I set it,” and his response was, “when does it go off?” We can laugh at that, it’s funny, but it probably wasn’t the best Christ-like response. God’s wisdom tells us:
NIV Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
NIV Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
If we seek to be wise we must learn to hold our tongue more often, or as we might say it today, bite your tongue. In other words we don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to us because it is probably not going to be a word of healing. It will probably be sarcastic (even if it is funny), cutting, or spoken in anger. The quicker we respond to someone, the greater the danger of using reckless words, and saying something harmful which will hurt the other person, and our relationship with them. If we hold our tongue it will give us time to do the second piece of wisdom for mastering our mouth, which is:
2. Think before you speak
NIV Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
Rarely do quickly spoken words have any thought behind them. If we would just think about our words before we open our mouth we would get in a lot less trouble. This is such a simple principle but practiced so seldom. Yet Solomon tells us wise people consistently think about what they are going to say before they say it. They measure their words carefully. Because once the words are out of our mouth we cannot put them back in, they have already done their damage.
If we hold our tongue and think for a second we can ask ourselves, “is what I am about to say given in love and consideration for the other person, or will it hurt them?” “How can I say it in a better way?” If you can’t think of a better way to say it, we can follow the modern day proverb our parents taught us, “if you can’t say anything nice…(don’t say anything at all).” Bite your tongue, keep your mouth shut until you think of a better response which reflects our God given commandment to speak in love to others as we would want them to speak to us.