How's that mouth of yours? Does it always speak words that help and heal or ... occasionally ... do you wish you had shut that mouth before it uttered words you wanted to take back? Yep. The Bible tells us that controlling the mouth and tongue is HARD. Join Nicole and Sharon, today, for a tough talk about how God can help us "watch our mouth" and say words that bless.
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. We hope this little pause in your day, refreshes and encourages you friend. Let’s take time to know God through his Word and love him more and more. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to episode 32 friends. Today’s title is Watch Your Mouth. Sharon, did you ever say that as a kid?
No, but, Oh my goodness I have some friends that back in the day would say, watch your mouth mister, all the time. It was one of their favorite expressions and it basically meant that their child was getting close to being disrespectful or perhaps saying something that wasn’t nice about somebody else. So I thought it was a fun title for today because all of us need to watch our mouths and Proverbs has a ton to say about it. I am quite capable of saying things I don’t want to Nicole, things that I never thought would come out of my mouth have, have emerged. And I can’t take them back once they’re said. So I bet you’ve had some of those too.
Yes, sadly. I think that comes with the gift of gab.
Yes it does.
When words come out quickly they’re not always well thought out or what God wants us to say. Learning to overcome this has taken years of God teaching me self-control, to slow down my words and to make sure that they are worth saying, but I still say things I shouldn’t Sharon. So what does God have for us today on this topic? Because clearly I need all the help I can get.
So do I. Well, we’re mainly going to be in the Proverbs, but I want to start with a very stern warning from the book of James, because James has quite the little bit to say about the mouth as well, and specifically the tongue. So if you could read for us James 3:2 – through just the beginning of verse 6, I think it’s going to help us in our beginning.
Yeah, I think so. All right. James 3, starting at verse 2 – “Indeed we all make many mistakes for if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches, but a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire and among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness corrupting your entire body.
Wow. He didn’t pull any punches did he?
No, he didn’t. He doesn’t, he’s quite a fun writer, but I think it’s fascinating when you think about it. I mean, what percentage of our body is the tongue? Less than one percent, right? I mean it’s pretty small.
And yet James is absolutely right. The damage words can cause which obviously is more than just the tongue. It’s our vocal chords and stuff too, but it’s huge. And it can be lifelong. It’s so sad to think of how our casual words and our hurtful words have lasting consequences in others’ lives. I remember a terrible day in gym class when I was in high school, I was not the popular kid. I had braces and I had a lot of acne and I was really geeky. I mean, they called me brains. That’s just what they called me. So this girl called me over, there was this like little group of popular girls sitting there.
And she’s like, Sharon, come here. And I’m like, what, they want me?
They’re talking to me?
Yes. I’m so shocked. So, like a not very smart person, I walked over and I said, what is it? Like, wow, she’s being nice. And she said, you want to see something really ugly? And I really didn’t. But I said, sure. So she took a mirror and she put it up to my face and she said, now that’s ugly. And they all laughed.
Oh that’s horrible! Oh my gosh.
I know! I feel so sorry for my high school self.
I do too yeah. Especially then. That hurts so much at that age.
Yeah, it took a while to get over it. Thank the Lord I have parents that love me and built me up. And I had a God that I adored. And so that I, you know, I’m not like damaged for life, but, but I also didn’t feel very attractive right after that for quite a while. So.
I know kids can be so cruel.
Like mean. Well, when I was a kid, I had a whole group makeup a song that rhymes with my name and they used to sing it to me. So that was fun. It was Nicole, the mole, she looks like a troll, she drinks out of a toilet bowl, she lives in a hole.
There is unfortunately a lot of not so nice words that rhyme with Nicole.
And they found them all evidently.
Evidently. So I was called Coley for a while.
Did you really? You were called Coley?
Yeah, my family always called me Coley and that was much nicer.
Oh, that’s so sweet.
But yeah, kids are mean.
They are mean and you and I both were blessed with good homes. For a child that doesn’t get a lot of positive reinforcement at home those words can, can change a life negatively. A whole life. You know, it’s so sad. It really is. Oh well, now that we’ve confessed our sadness from high school.
And childhood trauma.
Yes. Let’s turn to Proverbs. And that’s where we’re going to camp today and learn wisdom there about the tongue. We’ve divided it into three sections. First we look at the overall principle that words matter. You know that saying sticks and stones break your bones. Well, you know what? Words hurt. Words can break a heart.
They can break a heart. So let’s just read two verses from Proverbs to start with that illustrate this point although there are so many proverbs dealing with the tongue and mouth you could write a book on them. So I’m going to start with Proverbs 13:3 – it says this, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life. Opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
Now, that’s a big warning. And just like James being so emphatic about how this little tongue is like a forest fire, Solomon is basically saying the same thing. He’s saying, this can ruin everything. If you do not learn to control your tongue, you can destroy your friendship. You can ruin a marriage. You can even start a war I betcha. Just with the power of the mouth and the tongue. It’s crazy. We really have to control our tongues.
Wow. Well, Proverbs 18:21 says more about the tongue and its terrible power. The tongue can bring death or life. Those who love to talk will reap the consequences. It’s amazing to see the power that the tongue actually holds. All of us as humans have been completely devastated by words or sent soaring and joy by what sounds that tongue can make. It’s a little terrifying, the damage it can do. And so quickly. We must strive for words of life. I don’t want others to feel the death from words that I have felt in my life. So I need to be ever so cautious with my own words so that I don’t cause that feeling in other people.
Amen. All right then. Words matter. Words we say to strangers. Words, we say to family, friends, bosses, coworkers. They matter. We’re going to look at two different kinds of verses. We’re going to look at verses that talk about words that hurt. And then we’re going to end by looking at verses that talk about words that help and heal. So I need this lesson and I’m really excited about it. So, okay, we’re going to start with words can hurt. Nicole, why don’t you do our first verse?
All right. Proverbs 11:12 – 13: – says “It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor. A sensible person keeps quiet. A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence”. So I looked up the word belittle. It means to make someone seem unimportant. And I think by doing that, we try to make ourselves feel more important. And that is certainly not how Jesus treats us. We should be looking to put the needs of others before ourselves to model how Jesus lived. And this again will bless us if we obey, because it always gets out that you said something unkind and the trouble that you have to get into to make it up to them. And then if you say something bad about your neighbor, you have to live next to your neighbor and you have to do all those consequences and it’s awkward. So God gives us this warning to give us just an easier life.
Yes, he does. It’s actually protection isn’t it?
It is. It really is. So onto gossiping. Why is it so easy to do?
It’s such an awful use of our words and can be a terrible destroyer of friendships. What a hurtful thing to do to a person that you love and value as a friend to spread a secret, they told you in confidence. It’s a horrible feeling to find out someone has done that. And I know I have hurt others in my life too, by gossiping. Let’s keep our mouth shut tight for this one. Or if we have a genuine concern or issue with a friend or neighbor, tell them. We should aim for restoration, not gossiping behind their back to make ourselves feel better at their expense.
I love the way you said that. We should always aim for restoration. Gossip tears down. If there’s something that they’ve done that is wrong, we go to them and we go to them with love.
And that stops a lot of gossip, I think. Am I saying this because I just want to kind of spread something juicy or is this actually going to benefit them to change as a person?
Exactly. And normally when you talk to the person themselves, you realize that you’ve misunderstood half of it anyways. And what you thought you saw, wasn’t exactly what you saw.
So that’s so true so often. So, okay. So number one: words can hurt by belittling and gossiping about others. And that’s one way they can and we don’t want to do it. Okay. Number two: words can hurt by creating anger in others and starting quarrels. So I’m going to read from Proverbs 15:1: – it says “A gentle answer, deflects, anger, but harsh words make tempers flare”. And boy is that the truth? When you’re around somebody that’s mad, you get mad. Just, I don’t know, it’s almost like you can catch it like the flu, isn’t it?
Oh yeah. You walk in the room and you just get all flared up.
Yeah! There’s just this aggressiveness about anger that makes you want to be aggressive back. So harsh words stir it up. And I, Oh, my word, I was just not ready to be the mother of teenagers. Let me tell you.
Is anyone ever?
Because honestly, my perfect girls from like four to 12, just ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am’. I had them just so well-trained. I was so proud of myself and then they actually became independent and started thinking for themselves and, and they noticed that I wasn’t perhaps as perfect as I led them to believe. And when they saw where my character was not necessarily reflecting what I was teaching them, you know, which was a good thing for my character in the end, they were a little less ‘yes ma’am-ish’ right?
Right, Oh yeah.
So we had some, we had some knock-down drag-out nasty worded fights that just escalated and escalated. And one day Mary said to me, and I think I’ve shared this before, I don’t remember if I have on a podcast or not, but it stands out in my mind. She said, you know, mom, when I reach your age, I surely hope I am more mature than you are now.
And I didn’t have the maturity to say nicely, ‘honey, I hope you are too’. I was like, I hope you are too but I doubt it if you have a child, like you. We just kept going round and round and round with it. So words can hurt. Like creating anger in others and starting quarrels, is that what we want to do? Is that what I wanted in my home? A home full of quarrels? No, but that’s what I created by letting harsh words stir it up and not being the mature one. Hello, Sharon and stopping it.
All right. Your turn.
Number three: words can hurt by creating trouble and destruction. Proverbs 16:27-28 says “Scoundrels create trouble. Their words are a destructive blaze. A troublemaker plants seeds of strife. Gossip separate the best of friends.” There’s that gossip again.
I think God knows how prone we are to it and warns us several times just in case we miss it. Um, the phrase destructive blaze just seems to fit our current political world doesn’t it? I feel like it just seems like the more people get up and speak these empty and thoughtless words, more anger and destruction blazes up. I have heard very few people that seem to genuinely seek understanding and harmony between sides. And it seems like they just love to create trouble.
So true. If we could just think and filter what’s in our mind before it comes out of our mouths, if we could watch our mouths.
Not react out of that flesh and that anger.
Yeah. It can be so destructive. Well number four: words can hurt because they are outright lies. Proverbs 25:18 says “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax.”
“Wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” And that is true. And you know, as I was kind of thinking through, you know, what’s a real life example of that, I thought of the racial inequity we have had in our system and the number of black men that have been put in prison for things they did not do. I just Googled it this morning, Nicole, cause I was curious. I came up with three, like instantly: Ronnie Long, 44 years for rape he did not commit.
Oh my goodness.
Malcolm Alexander, 38 years; DNA proved him innocent. Thirty-eight years because of lies! And then Joseph Hicks for 19 years. Lies are wicked and they can hurt like a sword. And even if we think a little lie wouldn’t cause as much damage, words can hurt people. And when we lie about them, we defame them and we smirch them. We smirch them and we ruin their reputations. It’s a horrible thing. That’s another way words can hurt.
Oh yeah. And you mean you can ruin someone’s life, especially if they’re in prison for all their life. Like you can ruin their life with a lie.
Watch for lies.
Number five: words can hurt if they’re badly timed. Proverbs 27:14 says “A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse”. I love this one. This one makes me laugh.
So I’m always shushing my kids early in the morning, usually it’s because like the puppy or a kiddo is still sleeping and I really enjoy the quiet. I make my coffee and my brain wakes up and when they are too perky and chatty and loud, it just grates on my nerves. So the lesson here, be gentle with us night owls in the morning, all you bright early birds. We will not be able to appreciate your thoughtful and boisterous well wishes that early. Save them for after coffee. We will savor them more. But seriously, we can have such good intentions, but be super insensitive to people and their needs. Sometimes we just want to get something out or get it off our chest or feel like we need to say it. And it’s not the right time for them to receive it. So we need to be really careful and aware of the timing of our words as well.
Absolutely. I happen to be one of those annoying early birds. Ray had to retrain me and I’ll never forget. I lived in, we’d lived in a duplex when we were first married and this woman named Cheryl lived next door to me. And I convinced her to go to sunrise service with me with many words because I always had many. Oh, Cheryl, it’s so glorious to be there as the sun rises. And she’s just looking at me deadpan and she says, I will go with you. But if you so much as sound like that in the morning, or even smile at me, I will tear your eyeballs out, which she would not have done. Cheryl was a nice woman. I’m not defaming her, but she made her point. She was like, you know what, Sharon, I can’t handle perky. You want me to come you cannot do that.
I’ve got to ease into the excitements of the world.
That’s right. So even that can be hurtful. When we perky people, and you know, perky people can be hurtful too if somebody’s hurting, we really do need to watch timing you’re right. We can say hurtful things to someone who’s suffering, you know, maybe trying to cheer them up too fast.
Yes. Like rushing them through the pain.
Yeah. Oh yeah.
I’ve been guilty of that many times.
So all right then. Lots of ways we can hurt others with our tongues: lying, gossip, belittling, stirring up anger, starting quarrels, stirring up trouble. Or even just being annoying by being loud and insensitive to people. That tiny tongue can do big and cruel things. Well, I am really ready to turn to how it can help.
Okay, let’s do that. Proverbs 12:18 assures us that “The words of the wise bring healing”. Oh, Nicole, I want to be wise. I want my words to heal, to help so much. So let’s dive into the next section and now that we know what not to do.
Yes, let’s figure out what to do. We can’t be silent all the time.
We tried; doesn’t work.
So here are some principles that we found from these Proverbs that we hope help everybody that’s listening. Principle number one: words help when they encourage. Proverbs 10:21 says “The words of the godly encourage many but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense”. You know, I was recently so encouraged by a group of people that pray for Sweet Selah Ministries. I give a monthly prayer letter out asking for how they can pray for our ministry. And several of them were like, we need more details. Could you give us a weekly prayer letter?
Because you know it’s too vague for a month. We want to know when you’re going to be in the radio studio, taping a podcast. That kind of thing. That was such an encouragement to me because what it said was people aren’t getting these prayer letters and just saying, Oh, that’s nice. And putting them in the delete file.
They’re actually praying. In fact, they’re praying so much that they want to pray more.
What a humbling, sweet, sweet thing. And it, it not only encouraged me to know they were praying, but it encouraged me to dare to be specific and to ask more specifically for prayer because really God works through prayer.
Absolutely. Wow. That’s so nice.
Yeah. So that’s just a very recent example of how words encourage and that’s one way they can help.
Number two: words help when they are gentle. Proverbs 15:1: – “A gentle answer, deflects, anger, but harsh words make tempers flare”. This rings so true in my family. I think in most families actually.
With both my husband and my children, how I respond to them can cause an eruption of tempers and angry words, or I can completely diffuse a situation if I’m gentle. It’s amazing. I pray daily that God helps me to be a diffuser of anger in my home and not the fuel for it.
Oh, I love the way you said it. The diffuser, not the fuel. That’s beautiful. Yeah. I memorized that one when the girls were teens. That verse, “A gentle answer turneth away wrath, but a harsh word stireth up anger”. I had it in the old King James, but I, you know what I did, I would recite it before I spoke.
That’s a really good.
A teenager would say something to me that, you know, I mean, I thought everything was disrespectful back then. I really wasn’t nice to them. I thought they were still seven. They were older; I needed to treat them more as adults, but I didn’t. So they’d say something that they would probably even mean innocently that I would flare at. And if I would recite Proverbs 15:1: first, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, a harsh word stirs up anger”. Just reciting it before I spoke, helped me answer gently.
That’s a good idea.
Yeah, it was so good.
I should be focusing on that now. I still flare up my little kids, in the little stages, when they’re teenagers, they are more pointed with their words. They know how to get to you.
Oh, they’re very smart.
Yes, they know what things to say to really get you angry and start that flare. So I think we have to be doubly on our guard as they get older.
Right. And then gentle them and then they’ll be gentle back.
Yeah, that’s true.
I have this beautiful picture of a home without that and I’m sure some people managed it.
Somewhere. There’s a gentle home with gentle children.
Yes. Okay then. All right. So words help when they’re gentle. Number three: words help when they can persuade someone to do good. Proverbs 16:23 says “From a wise, mind comes wise speech. The words of the wise are persuasive”. Oh, what a joy, when we can persuade someone to seek counsel, perhaps when they’re struggling with something, instead of just giving up with it or when we can persuade someone to look at something from a different perspective. I can remember a dear friend named Laura when Ray and I were first married, who whenever I would whine and complain about him, would persuade me to think about it from his perspective. And she did so much good for me because an awful lot of the time, if I looked back on whatever situation it was, I had contributed. You know, I always felt so innocent at first, but…
Don’t we though? We’re also so wronged.
Yeah, all his fault. But then I would say, Oh, I see how X, Y or Z might have, you know, rubbed him completely the wrong way. And that doesn’t mean maybe what he did was completely right either but she persuaded me to sort of back off my high horse a bit.
Right. Go back and look at it. Yeah. That’s great. A good friend.
So words when they do that are wonderful; persuade you to do good and not evil.
That’s good. Number four: words actually bring health and sweetness when they are kind. Proverbs 16:24: – “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” It’s really nice to hear how words can be used for good.
I noticed the end results of these verses most strongly in children. They don’t hide their feelings very well and when we are kind and speak words of life and encouragement to kiddos, I swear you can see them bloom before you, their little faces just light up and they so treasure sweet words. I know we all do, but I love to see the effect on children. So they don’t try to hide that elation, you know, and for me personally, when Josh or one of my close friends has encouraged me, it has had a healing effect on maybe a past wound or insecurity that I had. It’s such a beautiful gift that we can give to others, the gift of healing words.
It’s a wonderful thing, and I think one reason I survived the ugly words said about me being ugly was that my parents spoke so many healing words to me.
Right. To counteract that right away.
Yeah, it really helped. It really did.
That’s so great. Yeah.
Okay. Number five: sometimes what helps and heals is no words at all. How interesting is that? Proverbs 11:13 says “A gossip goes around telling secrets.” Gossip, gossip, gossip. Oh, my goodness. What is that?
I know. A whole podcast on gossiping.
But here’s the part we’re dealing with today. “But those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.” Which is just lovely. And I want to be that safe place where people can unload and tell me things. For some reason, many women over the years have felt I was a safe place to talk about previous sexual abuse.
I’m not sure why but I have a whole lot of horrible stories in my mind that I feel honored to have because some of them, for the very first time ever, spoke hard words out loud and that in itself, being able to unload something that seems so terrible and so secret to someone you trust, actually takes away from the burden of carrying that secret. And so I have always felt very honored by that, that I could help lift the load of a dark, dark secret that needed to be lifted, but that only happens if you are trustworthy and can keep a confidence. Because man, can you damage if someone trusts you with something of that nature and then you go and tell it.
So that’s a good goal to try to be in a place,
Where people trust you.
Where people trust you with their deepest, hardest things. And then to not talk about it, just not talk about it.
Yeah. Well and sharing that they become lighter and it doesn’t transfer that ugly, dark secret, or burden onto us fully. It’s a shared load. And so we both come away a little bit lighter, even though you do have their awful story in your head. God uses it as just a blessing and sharing each other’s burden’s.
There is such a blessing and it loses its power over you. When you tell a secret to the right person,
Right, right. Find the right person.
It loses his power. Cause Satan loves to keep us in bondage. And as long as that secret is dark, it’s bigger. And when it’s spoken, it gets smaller.
It does. It loses its power.
Absolutely, it loses its punch. Especially if the person you’re telling it to doesn’t turn from you and recoil and just says ‘Ow!’ and walks with you through it. So and that’s why sometimes a counselor’s the best person, which I am not. So, you know, I sometimes worry that I don’t respond correctly, but I do my best. And I thank people and say, thank you for trusting me with this.
Yeah, that really is big deal when people tell you their secrets. An honor.
Yeah, It is. It’s a neat thing.
Well, we’re going to end with a verse that is another great one to memorize. And again, we’re stepping out of Proverbs for it. I think it’s fascinating that the mouth is so noteworthy that all over the Bible it talks about it. Oh boy. So I’m going to read it for us. It’s Ephesians 4:29. It’s very clear, like all of these have been. They’re all been clear. Have they not been clear?
Very clear. There’s no gray area with these
“Don’t use foul or abusive language” and there’s words hurting again, words can be abusive. “Instead let everything you say, be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Isn’t that a great, great advice and something to memorize?
It really is.
Yeah. I love the ending, an encouragement to those who hear them. Because isn’t that what we want to be? We don’t want to be that person to seen like, Oh, it’s that person that always discourages me, but Oh wait, to be excited to be seen like, Oh, they’re going to say something that’s going to help me out. And say encouraging words.
Yes, and even if it’s a criticism, you can say something someone needs to hear with encouragement.
Or you can say it in such a way that they feel so beaten down that they can’t possibly make the change you think they should.
It’s all in whether you’re for them or not. I think that’s what it boils down to. If you are for somebody and you love them, then even if you have to share a hard truth with them, they can hear and feel that love and they can be encouraged that you believe they can change.
You know, and that you think they’re worth talking to about it. So it’s not always that every word has to be so sweet that you never speak truth.
You know, that’s not love. Anyways, I think that’s a great one to end on today. And I am going to close us in prayer, actually using this verse as our prayer. I love scripture praying. So we’re going to scripture pray today with this verse, so. Heavenly Father, first of all, would you please forgive us when we use foul or abusive language. Forgive us when our tempers or maybe our thoughts of what we think would sound cool or funny, make us say ugly words, Lord, forgive us and thank you that you do. And instead Father, would you help us to remember that everything we say should be good, something that we want you to hear us saying. It should be helpful. And it should be a word that encourages those who hear them. Father, this week would you help us watch our mouths. Help us to give words that help and words that heal. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Amen. Well, I am all set now to go home and focus on healing words with my children, Sharon, and I expect you’re ready to do the same with Ray?
We hope each of you who are listening have great success this week as you seek the Lord asking him to open and close your mouth appropriately. This is a lesson I think that takes a lifetime to learn. Next week we finish our series on Proverbs with a look at that infamous famous passage in 31 and other related Proverbs on being a wife. We’ve called next week’s episode The Good Wife. Join us friends for a grand discussion on marriage and wifing. Until then we love comments and reviews and donations. So help us out please. You can find us @Sweetselah.org/podcasts and you can donate @Sweetselah.org/donations. Have a wonderful week filled with words that heal. God bless you.
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes can be found at sweetselah.org and at wordradio.net. Thank you for joining us.
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