“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3
“See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” James 3:2-12
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,…” Proverbs 15:4
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.” Psalm 53:7
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” 1 Peter 2:21-23
Shortly after a stranger verbally assailed me for something that had nothing to do with me, for something in fact that was her fault, due to the person’s negligence in a certain matter, and clearly by the appearance of the person’s behavior due to a personal issue, the Spirit of God brought to my attention how differently I responded than I would have in the past. Not because of me, most assuredly, but because He by His Spirit through His Word for His glory has been transforming me.
Instead of lashing out at the person, or trying to defend myself, as the person verbally lambasted me, I was silent. When I reflected afterward on what had occurred, the Lord showed me I had fear in my heart, judgment, pride, and a lack of love. He lovingly led me to relinquish the sin, to forgive the person, to pray for the person, to pray for my safety because the person seemed possessed by evil, and to get on with my life.
What would I have done in the past? Lashed out at the person, defended myself, engaged in what in retrospect I believe Satan was trying to get me distracted by, and to spend the following days reviewing what happened in my mind with bitterness, resentment, anger, hurt, and telling anyone who would listen. I also would not have considered that the person needed the Lord Jesus Christ, help, and prayer. I would have been entirely self-consumed and continuing to run at the mouth, spewing self-pity and bitterness forth.
The scriptures above make so abundantly clear how dangerous our mouths can be, as well as how beneficial a “wholesome tongue” can be. The most powerful verses above, for me, are the ones about the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. How often some of us try to justify using our mouths to hurt those who hurt us. If anyone in the universe had reason to lash out at those hurting Him, it was the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. And if anyone had reason to have a heart filled with pride, judgment, bitterness, and a lack of love, it was Christ on the cross. But His heart was pure, filled with love and compassion, mercy and forgiveness for those heinously murdering Him, and His tongue was silent as He submitted Himself to His Father in heaven. He wasn’t self-consumed. He was consumed with love for and obedience to His Father and love for a lost and perishing world that needed, and needs, His sacrifice on the cross so all who will repent and believe in Him as Lord, genuinely devoting their lives to Him, would be forgiven and given everlasting life.
In the last scriptures above, God almighty makes clear the Lord Jesus Christ did not revile those reviling Him, nor threaten them. So what did He do? He did what we need to do. He surrendered Himself to His Father in heaven.
There is a time to speak, and a time to be quiet. When we who follow Christ submit ourselves to the Spirit of God, He will let us know when to speak and when to be silent. When we relinquish the sin in our hearts, repenting of it, we have more room to be filled with the Spirit of God and God’s Word, opening the door for Him to use us as His vessels to pour forth His love and mercy, His compassion and forgiveness, to a world in dire need of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we do as Jesus did, choosing to love, to forgive, to serve, and to surrender ourselves to our Father in heaven who will lead us and guide us and be our defense and refuge no matter what comes at us.
Is it time to shut your mouth?