I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue:
“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
- Psalm 39:1-4
Your rich people are violent;
your inhabitants are liars
and their tongues speak deceitfully.
- Micah 6:12
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
- James 3:3-6
“Many great men and women down through the ages have offered counsel on how to keep our tongues checked and caged. Like Will Noris, the American journalist who specialized in rhymes that packed a wallop. He once wrote:
“If your lips would keep from slips
Five things observe with care
To whom you speak, of whom you speak,
And how … and when … and where
“Publius, the Greek sage, put his finger on another technique we tend to forget when he admitted:
“I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
From the title, I could write about fishing stories. When you catch and then release the fish back into the pond or stream, the fish can grow as large as the boat in the retelling of the story. There is no evidence, that is unless you really do catch a huge fish and you take a selfie.
But have you ever said something that you wished you had not said, not an exaggeration of the size of the fish? There is no way to catch those words and shove them back down your throat, pretending it never happened. I have offended so many people over the course of my life accidentally, not meaning any harm.
These days, if the wrong word slips from your lips, you could be a hater, a racist, a whatever-a-phobe. Funny how the Politically Correct can name you something vulgar because you used the wrong word in “naming” someone else. You are then forever labelled whatever that was. You are never forgiven. It is as if you are unable to change, as if repentance is not allowed or accepted. And you only used the word because you heard someone else use the word in loving tones and you wanted to be friendly, not having any idea what the word or phrase meant.
We have enough problem with the words that we are aware of the meaning.
I have often used words and phrases without knowing their etymology. That can get you into trouble.
But then, you can get angry, frustrated, or simply exhausted, and the wrong word slips at the wrong time.
And there is no way to put that word back in. There is no catch and release as if nothing ever changed.
Of the advice that Rev. Swindoll quoted, I can disagree with Publius in that I have often been silent and regretted it.
I do not say “I love you” often enough.
I do not say “I am sorry” often enough.
I do not say “God loves you” often enough.
Let us fill our tongues with words of encouragement and love. Maybe they will get into the habit and avoid that other stuff.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.