Guard Your Lips

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

The Puritan Thomas Brooks once wrote, “We know metals by their tinkling, and men by their talking.”[1]

Words are seldom neutral. God hears every word we speak—our lives are exposed before Him, and the Bible has the uncanny capacity to probe the recesses even of that which we seek to hide from ourselves and others.

Each of us is marked by memories of words spoken to us. Perhaps we reflect on the joy of a child’s first words or still feel the bitterness of a friend’s hurtful words. From our earliest days, we learn how to use words both to bring harm and to bring gladness. King Solomon was right: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

We are all fallen. Therefore, hurtful words easily flow from our mouths. They can be reckless, like the careless swing of a sword, and unguarded during times when we answer before we listen. Sometimes we simply say too much; inevitably, we say things we should have kept to ourselves. Words can destroy a neighbor, crush the feelings of a friend, and set fire to our relationships with others. One wrong word may spoil a person’s character, smear a reputation, or mar the usefulness of someone else’s life for a very long time. We know all this, yet how hard we find it to guard our mouths. How often we close our mouths too late, only after we have opened them wide and brought damage to ourselves or to others.

If we were truly honest about the failings of our tongues, we would cut each other much more slack. And we would be far more serious in seeking, by God’s enabling, to guard our own mouth and banish ruinous words. What a beautiful display of grace that would be to our friends, family, and neighbors! Jesus is the only perfect man; He never sinned with His words (James 3:2). If we seek to be like Him in this way, perhaps we will find more people marveling at the compassionate, tender, and kind words that came from His very lips (Luke 4:22).

Though your words and your works in and of themselves achieve nothing for you before the gate of heaven, they are evidence that your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is true. What will it look like for you to take seriously these words: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19, NIV)?

1 “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,” in The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, ed. Alexander Balloch Grozart (James Nichol, 1866), Vol. 3, p 178.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s