1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.
Of all the selections today, this one stood out the most. Maybe because I have to fight to not sin with my tongue. This, I have learned, is so important — and I wish I had always known just how important. I started learning this because I had been very hurt by things said to me and about me. The old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” just is NOT true. The bruises from sticks and stones will eventually heal, but the wounds from unkind words can last a lifetime… if not healed.
How can those heart wounds heal? First, I need to be clear on one important fact. Time does NOT heal all wounds – especially heart wounds, caused by words, and hurtful actions, like betrayal, rejection, abandonment, and unkind words. Ignoring and burying the pain is not healing either.
Usually, before a person can heal, it is necessary to recognize the hurts, who did the wounding, and what was said (or done.) We may have some understanding of the person or incident now that we didn’t have with it happened. If you were hurt as a child, the hurt is real, the pain is real, even if we can somewhat understand better now as an adult. The understanding doesn’t remove the pain.
Then we need to forgive. This can be a one-time event, or sometimes it is done over and over, often from a slightly different viewpoint on the incident. It is not necessary for the offending person to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes they are unaware; sometimes they are unavailable; sometimes they won’t admit they even did anything wrong. Remember, Jesus forgave us, paid the price for our sins, before we were even born… before we knew we had sinned… before we even asked Him for forgiveness.
The second, and even more important, is to know the truth. This is especially true when we’ve been called nasty, hurtful names, belittled, cursed (the opposite of being blessed), or rejected. So, what is the truth that we need to know? God’s Truth. Here are a few:
- You are not a mistake, but you were chosen, from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4)
- God has good plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- You have been given a spirit of power, love and self-control, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Knowing the truth with our minds is not enough. It will probably start there, but it must move down the 10 inches or so to our hearts — the place where our emotions live. So, how do we get the truth into our inmost being, where it will really heal us? We can declare the truth of the Word of God to ourselves. Scripture says “faith comes by hearing”, so speak it out loud. The Word of God accomplishes what it is sent to do. Plus, spending time with God, and experiencing His Love and Presence … giving Him the hurts and lies … receiving His truth … can wonderfully restore us. What happened in the past doesn’t change. But it no longer controls us, no longer causes such pain. We can be totally free.
What does it mean that I will guard my ways so I won’t sin with my tongue?
Years ago, I could slice someone up with my tongue in seconds. It was my defense, and sometimes I thought it was funny and clever. It was not. I know I hurt some people … badly. Then I needed forgiveness, from people and from God. One of the first scriptures the Lord gave me is Philippians 4:8-10,
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Not only was the peace of God with me, but with everyone else I talked to!
One last point. Sometimes it is better to keep quiet. Sometimes it is not. Remember the movie Bambi? In that movie, the rabbit Thumper said his mother had given him good advice. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Very true.
However, sometimes it is necessary to not remain quiet… to speak the truth… to defend someone … to give God credit for what He’s done (give Him glory)… to stand for what is right.
the apostle James wrote that
no human being can tame the tongue.
Please help us.
Teach us to say good, truthful,
and if we can’t,
to keep our mouths shut.
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