Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
For this past Sunday Scripture, I posted James chapter 3 verses 2-10. If you didn't read it, please take a moment to do so now. Psalm 141 goes along the same theme. Have your words ever gotten you in trouble? Have you ever wished you could take something you said back? How often have our words caused us sleepless nights, regret, and anguish? How often have we agonized over things we said, wishing we could re-live those few short moments over again and say things differently, or maybe not say anything at all! There's no doubt we have difficulty controlling our tongues. I believe that's why the Psalmist begs God to be the Keeper of his lips and the Watcher of his mouth. Oh, how we need God's help with our words! Learning the lesson of thinking before speaking is hard. I was reminded of this recently.
I thought about sharing the entire story here, but being careful about our words doesn't just apply to what we say... it applies to what we write too! Especially when it's posted on the internet for everyone and anyone to read. However, I do want to share a little bit, because it spoke to me strongly of this lesson about being careful with our words. Those of you who read my blog, and who know me, know that I have a lot of beliefs that I feel very strongly about. I will not hesitate to stand up for those beliefs either. However, I believe the Bible instructs us clearly on how to make stands for our beliefs. There must be balance. I must be firm in my convictions, but I must also display grace. Truth must be spoken in love. I will not compromise, but I'm not going to argue every chance I get either. I know a lot of people who claim to be born-again Christians with whom I have serious doctrinal and theological differences. Finding this balance of being graceful, yet not compromising my beliefs is a struggle for me, and something I'm constantly working on through prayer and reading the Scripture.
It takes much wisdom to know when and what is appropriate to say in conversations especially about "religion." This thing that happened recently was a conversation about a certain Bible College. A Christian lady obviously had had a bad experience with this particular College, and she did not hesitate to share her feelings. She used all sorts of negative and unloving words to describe them like, legalistic, hypocritical, and intolerant. She spoke at length about how awful this place was and was very judgemental against it. However, what she didn't know, was that I know MANY people who have attended this same College and had wonderful experiences there, learned much about the Lord, and grew in their faith! What she also didn't know, was that the Bible College I went to was very similar to the one she was talking about! In fact, many of my teachers had studied at the College she was tearing apart. Needless to say, it was a very awkward situation that I found myself in. On the one hand I wanted to speak up and defend the College. It simply WAS NOT at all like she said it was! On the other hand, I did not want to get into an argument or seem like I was speaking critically of this lady.
I prayed, and then I spoke up and said a few things. I didn't argue. I tried not to be confrontational. I hope I didn't come across as being defensive. I simply wanted the others who were present to realize there were two sides to this coin! The description this lady was giving may have had some truth to it, but it certainly wasn't entirely accurate! And the things she was saying were so ungracious and unkind. She quieted down and later apologized to me for ranting against that school. I appreciated her apology. However, my biggest concern was for the testimony we had shown to others present who were unbelievers. Had her words during that conversation honoured Christ? Had my words? Had we pointed people towards Him or away from Him? It's so easy to say words! It's impossible to take them back! Our words are going to count for something. They are either going to help or hinder the cause of Christ. I know my words are not perfect, and I cannot control them in my own strength. But like the Psalmist, I pray for the LORD to watch my mouth and guard my lips!
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.