Three times in the last four weeks, my big mouth got me into trouble. Each time I made a sarcastic comment in an ill attempt to be funny or make others laugh. The first time was when I was onstage while my team at work hosted a conference, and the other two times were in smaller meetings
My mouth does not usually get me into trouble—this is not my usual pattern. But, it’s been apparent to me the last few weeks that I’ve got to learn how to better guard my words and my tongue.
A few days ago I read this verse while reading through the Proverbs in Join The Journey:
Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23, ESV).
Other translations say it a slightly different way:
- Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity (NIV).
- Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief (Message).
- The one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble (CSB).
Regardless, my mouth is getting me into trouble and I’ve got to learn to better guard/watch/keep my tongue, mouth, and the words I say.
Why does my mouth keep getting me into trouble?
I’ve noticed a pattern in times of trouble. Typically it’s for one of three reasons:
- My motive is not to honor God with my teaching or speaking, but to get others to like me or laugh at something I say. In other words, I want to win the approval of others.
- I’m battling insecurity and so I look for ways to gain affirmation.
- What I say might be true, but I lack the discernment and maturity in the moment to bridle my tongue.
I assume I’m not alone in this struggle. Whether your mouth and words get you into trouble at home, work, or in your neighborhood, we’ve got to learn how to better keep our mouth and tongue so they don’t get us into trouble.
What should you and I do if our words and mouth get us into trouble? Here are eight ways I brainstormed to help you and I better keep our mouths shut. I brainstormed this list because I need all the help I can get!
1. Pray and believe God can change and help you and me. Pray and believe God will give us wisdom and discernment on what to say and what not to say. See James 1:5-8.
2. Make it my desire to please God not man. See Galatians 1:10.
3. Learn to speak less and listen more. See James 1:19.
4. Ask the following question: Is what I’m about to say going to build someone up or tear them down? See Ephesians 4:29.
5. Be humble and teachable when others seek to sharpen me. Each time I’ve said something foolish, a friend lovingly challenged me to show better discernment. A few times I’ve had to publicly apologize and ask for forgiveness for things I’ve said. See James 4:6.
6. Thank God for friends who seek to help me grow in guarding my mouth by wounding me at times. See Proverbs 27:6.
7. Gain insight into what is in my heart, since the mouth overflows from whatever is in my heart. See Luke 6:43-45.
8. Ask what I’d want to be said about me. Would I want what I’m about to say be said about me?
I need some help keeping and guarding my tongue. I’m asking God to help change me. At the same time, I don’t want to have to over-analyze everything I say and become hyper-focused on me and what I say. More than anything I want to be one who honors God and others with his words and tongue.
This article originally appeared on ScottKedersha.com and was republished with permission.
Scott Kedersha is the director of premarital and newly married ministries at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. He’s a loyal husband and father to four boys.