He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That childhood chant probably ranks as the greatest all-time lie. The fact is, long after our broken bones have mended, we still feel the sting of hurtful words spoken to us. If you do not believe that, then let me ask you a few questions. Do you remember a hurtful nickname bestowed upon you when you were a child? Can you recall an unflattering comment made about your appearance when you were a teenager? Can you remember a less-than-glowing evaluation of your work made by an employer sometime in the past? Can you remember a farewell speech by a mate or a lover as they walked out the door for the last time? The fact is, words have tremendous power to hurt us.
The words we speak to other people not only hurt those people; our words can hurt us as well. I know of a leader of a large organization who had an employee who was dismissed. A potential new employer called this leader for a recommendation of his ex-employee. In an unguarded moment, this leader made a less-than-flattering comment about the person’s character. He is now the subject of a defamation suit by his ex-employee, all because of a careless sentence that he spoke. Words have great power to bring great harm into our lives. And that is why if we are going to be successful in life, Solomon says we have to learn how to guard our speech.
It is impossible to be successful in life without knowing how to control your tongue. In fact, out of the 31 chapters of Proverbs, did you know Solomon devotes 150 proverbs to the subject of controlling our speech? It is a major issue in the book of Proverbs. Solomon’s proverbs are filled with admonitions about our speech:
- “My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may observe discretion and your lips may reserve knowledge” (5:1-2).
- “Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand” (10:14).
- “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (18:7).
- “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles” (21:23).
We all want to have success according to God’s Word. If we are going to be successful, we need to learn Solomon’s secret for success when it comes to speech, and it is simply this: you never have to explain what you do not say. There are certain kinds of speech we ought to avoid at all costs if we want to be successful in life.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “You Never Have To Explain What You Don’t Say” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2013.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.