Psalm 141:1-3 “A Psalm of David. LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
“Stupid!” “Idiot!” “Loser!” The name calling that each of us has sustained in our lifetime has left scars and deep wounds that for some, have come to define who we are. Call a child ‘stupid’ or ‘idiot’ long enough and they we grow up believing it.
Our words matter. We tend to diminish the pungency of our words when hurting others and cry loudly when words hurt us. We think our sarcasm is a display of wit and intelligent humor when most often it is at someone else’s expense.
Some have no filter whatsoever and say the first thing that comes to mind. For those, often the words’ ‘I’m sorry’ are needing to be spoken when, in fact, if they would have taken a moment and asked a simple question – “How would I feel if someone said that to me?”
When selfishness and pride take hold in a person’s life, there is usually a battlefield of ruined relationships, broken hearts and hearts forever changed because of the wounds sustained by words spoken in jest, or casually let fly without thinking.
It is a very small person who will raise themselves up in front of others while standing on someone else’s ruined life or testimony. We tear others down to lift ourselves up. We feel it is the penalty they must pay for their ignorance or inadequacy.
David saw that as he was raised up to be king, what he said, what he didn’t say, how he acted, mattered to the people he so desperately wanted to lead rightly. His prayer in this psalm: “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” was saying that he wanted God to be the filter on everything he said.
Far too often we are found with our foot in our mouth over the hastiness to be witty, sarcastic or funny at another’s expense. We forget to check the statement against propriety, integrity and simply, ‘What would Jesus say?’ or ‘How would Jesus respond?’
Would Jesus be found taunting one of His disciples over a fault or an imperfection in their life? Would Jesus be found bullying someone with words that would literally leave them destitute in soul? David asked for God to be the one to filter his speech.
We find also:
Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
In an effort to change what we say, we must attack the root – our thought life. When I view someone lesser in my mind, eventually my words will reflect that sentiment. I have some of the best arguments in my mind. In those arguments, I have beat down my opponent with words that tore them to shreds. I have written flaming emails that have cut a person’s character to pieces and would have left them devastated only to reread it and delete it.
When strong words are needed, we, who name the name of Christ, MUST truly ask of God to be led and guided in our words, actions, attitude and tone lest we mar our testimony and be unable to be the type of witness that God desires us to be or inevitably lose the ability to influence another.
So often, the ones we fail to exercise God’s filter is with those closest to us. We say something about our spouse, friend or even child in front of others. We laugh and others with us. Next time, check to see if the one targeted for your funny comment is laughing as well. Many will laugh in those situations nervously because it helps to cover the sting of the words that we so flippantly let fly.
We ought to adopt the principle of praising far more than we punish with our words. You get what you praise, is a statement we should adopt with all people, especially those closest to us.
The world has accepted the talk of others to tear down authority; to denigrate another’s character, to gossip or lie about someone. This is a true saying;
“A lie will travel around the world before the truth ever gets the chance to put on it’s shoes.”
Jesus told us that we will be persecuted, lied about, our character assassinated and left to bleed to death. But and if we live for Christ, it is not us they tear down, but our Savior. If He can suffer the cruelties of the crucifixion on the cross, I can surely suffer for Him here.
As we begin our work week, let us ask God to “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
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.”
James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”