(Psalms 141:3-6) Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! Let a righteous man strike me--it is a kindness; let him rebuke me--it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds. When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
(James 3:1-2) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
Here are two very profound sections of scripture. The Lord speaks much to us about the difficulty and importance of controlling our tongues, that is, being ever aware of what we say, how we say it, and the affect it has on others. Words have such a strong affect on others because once they are said, they can never ever be rescinded. Wars have been started and ended, and so have relationships, over just one word.
Your words are the conduit through which the contents of your heart and mind are made public. Knowing the frailty of and the pollution within the human heart is why 90% of what you want to say is better left unsaid. The spoken word includes mannerisms, tones, inflections, and body language that all aid in communicating what is really in your heart. Many times the word or words you speak and what your listener hears are opposites.
James speaks of teaching but this principle is not limited to formal teaching alone. Whenever you speak into someone's life, give correction or instruction, share your opinion, or in any other way have an influence on a person, you will be judged by a higher standard and with greater strictness. This is because once you open your mouth and speak to another, you alter that person's view, mindset, and even his actions. It is very important to be sure what you speak to others is the truth of God's Word, for once you speak to another you share in the responsibility of the outcome. With only a few words, Satan altered what Eve thought and believed about God and what He had told her. Even though it was not Satan who committed the sin, he will be held accountable for the part he played in influencing Eve.
Know what you believe and why you believe it and even when you do, be very careful what you speak. Remember that when you change your mind or view on something, you can not go back and change the mind and view of all those whom you have influence. Remember that most of the time it is wiser and better to be silent than to speak.
Questions For Discussion
- Why are words so powerful?
- Why are you held responsible (at some level) for the view, mindset, and even the actions of another who is influenced by what you say?
- Should you just be silent all the time?