Watch Your Words

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. – Proverbs 10:19

“Measure twice, cut once,” is an old carpenter’s adage. How well we would do to apply it not only to pieces of lumber but also to our words. Words spew out of our mouth without careful thought. Once spoken, words are even more difficult to repair than wood cut too short.

Angry words attack. Selfish words belittle. Gossip ruins reputations. Reflect on the words you have recently spoken. How many were aimed to hurt? How many tore others down? How many did you regret saying, wishing you could take them back?

What about a lie that’s told and then more lies to cover up that lie? It snowballs. “When words are many, sin is not absent.” How often do we color the truth to paint ourselves a little better than we are?

Do we drag God’s name into our sinful words, adding to our guilt? Does his name become an interjection to express anger, frustration or surprise? Do we think others won’t take us at our word unless we invoke God’s name? How guilty we are!

Did Jesus ever misuse his words? Never, not even once. When sin needed to be confronted, Jesus certainly spoke stern words, but not in selfish anger. Even his harshest warnings came from a heart longing for his hearers to turn from their sin and be saved. And what tender words of invitation Jesus speaks to our hearts burdened by guilt and weighed down by sin! “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Rather than using our words to bargain with God or to try to convince him that we’re not all that bad, let’s hold our tongues and listen. Our own words condemn us. But Jesus’ words cover all our evil words. His perfect life in word and deed counts for us. Faith hears Jesus’ resurrection speaking the final word: “Dear sinner, you are freely justified. You’re sins are fully forgiven.”

May all our words harmonize in tune with Jesus’ melody!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, forgive my many words that fall short. As I close my mouth and listen to your word, let it fill my heart and overflow from my mouth. Lead me to speak your truth with humility and love. Amen.



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