I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” Psalm 39:1
Okay, I will admit, by mouth gets the better of me sometimes. I’m improving as I age, but once in a while, I say things that I really shouldn’t have or didn’t mean to. Then they are just out there and I have to live with the consequences. Sometimes it’s just embarrassing, but occasionally, it’s downright painful. I am usually my own worst critic, and most of the time amends are made and things are fine. But we can’t take back the words we say very easily, and in spite of the old saying, words do hurt. Ask David. He talks about the tongue and his lips and his words on numerous occasions in the Psalms. Sometimes he says he’s watching himself around those who are “wicked,” as in Psalm 39:1. But other times, he takes full responsibility for his actions: “While I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3).
James has pointed words to say about the tongue too, describing it as “a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” (James 3:5). He continues: “And the tongue is a fire…placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell” (v. 6). And James says, “no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (v. 7). Who among us can win with such a wicked thing in our mouths?
I heard a wonderful saying recently about when to speak: “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said now? Does it need to be said by me?” Surely these are words to abide by! In fact, I can just imagine Jesus whispering them in my ear. If, when my little fiery tongue is ready to lash out and make a fool of me, I could slow my mind long enough to repeat these three questions to myself, things would go much better.
Patient Lord, help me ask myself these important questions before I open my mouth! Amen
Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors. Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .