My father had a variety of statements and phrases that he loved to pull out from time to time. Some of his quotes that quickly come to mind are:
“Son, you put things in your mouth that I wouldn’t even put in my hand.”
“Son, you can speak so well that you make the deal and sell the product, and you can keep on talking and end up buying it back.”
“Son, it is better to keep your mouth shut and let other people think you are a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
My father was a man transformed by Jesus Christ, and like all men he was sinful in his flesh, but by the grace of God he sinned with his words less than most. The Holy Spirit caused him to have a gentle spirit and a controlled tongue, and he longed for his sons to choose and use their words carefully. My dad greatly appreciate the following verses from the book of Proverbs:
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 17:27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
However, there is no one perfectly righteous, no not one. The greatest of God’s friends have spoken quickly, rashly, foolishly, harshly, and sinfully. My dad had his days. And with my words, I have dishonored God and harmed my neighbors over and over again. The same can be said of the greatest of saints in Scripture, and the example of Job and his friends is before us. For 30-plus chapters they are presented as using their lips in less than honorable ways.
Job gives testament to his sinful statements in the sixth chapter:
Job 6:1-3 Then Job answered and said, “Oh that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances. For then it would prove to be heavier than the sand of the sea: and because of this, therefore my words have been rash.
Throughout the book, Job sins by:
- Overstating his innocence.
- Asserting God is acting indiscriminately.
- Asserting God is acting unjustly.
- Asserting God is apathetic towards his plight.
- Asserting there is no mediator to stand before the Judge.
- Proclaiming the absence of hope.
His well-meaning friends prove their sin by:
- Giving poor advice.
- Wrongly claiming Job’s suffering is the result of his iniquity.
- Wrongly promising that with repentance, suffering will cease.
- Not encouraging him with the Gospel-hope.
His wife sins by:
- Encouraging Job to curse God and die.
However, by the end of the book, Job and all his friends are found rightly using their lips to repent, and better worship their Creator, Lord, Judge, Savior, and Friend. They will be reminded that with much speech comes much folly, and they will always be reminded that God covers and forgives such sin by the merit and death of Jesus Christ, the one who always used his words perfectly in love for God and neighbor.
Therefore friends, let us acknowledge God’s good laws, acknowledge our bad language, confess our faith in our good Savior, and pray that God will allow us greater success in using our redeemed lips in accordance with our new nature. Yes, today, after confessing our sins and enjoying our Gospel-remedy, let us pray that the Holy Spirit might grant us Spirit-filled affection and wisdom to:
- Glorify our God with our words.
- Encourage the broken about us.
- Teach God’s Law rightly.
- Comfort with the Gospel readily.
- Speak slowly.
- Speak prudently.
- Speak gently.
- Interpret properly God’s providential dealings.
- Understand when to be silent because we haven’t got a clue.
Today, with the Psalmist let us pray:
Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!