Southern Baptist Convention

An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends (Prov. 16:27-28).

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This old rhyme has been taught to multiple generations of children to use as a “shield” against schoolyard tormentors, but Scripture makes clear the falsehood behind these words. Indeed, we may be shocked to discover on the judgment day of Christ that the damage that has been done by loose talk far exceeds that done in any other way, because its destructive force will never end. Although we can be truly sorry, repent, and receive forgiveness, we cannot unsay what we have said. Once words have escaped our lips they cannot be recalled. They will go on and on from mouth to ear and ear to mouth, spreading their damage across cities, states, nations and continents. The Lord has given us many warnings regarding thoughtless speech. A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue (17:4). Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince (17:7). A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul (18:6-7).

A single snide remark made over lunch may be soon forgotten by the speaker, but as it winds its way out into the world it will grow ugly and malignant. Words have the power to wound a person soul deep. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly (18:8). Hateful words are especially destructive if they have been uttered by someone known to be a Christian. When we claim to serve the Lord, anything that we say or do reflects on Him. Consequently, when we speak, people attribute our message to God. Through the power of words alone we can drive people away from the church, cause them to shun Christian fellowship, and leave them with a false image of our Savior. How badly would you feel to know that it was your words that caused someone to turn away from their search for Christ?

David prayed, Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (Ps. 141:3). He understood the dangers of unguarded speech, and he realized the God was the only one qualified to determine the difference between what was helpful and what was hurtful. This prayer should be one that we pray each morning upon waking, before we get involved in the first conversation of the day. Just as God guided David, He will guide and direct us. By running every word through the Lord’s filter before allowing it to escape our mouth, we will ensure that we accurately represent Him to everyone that we meet.

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Matt. 15:11). Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:5).

Thought for Today:

Always think before you speak. Are your words inspired by God, or are they influenced by the lies of the enemy?

Christ Revealed:

As the One who punishes the proud (Prov. 16:5). Jesus said: Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased (humbled); and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11). As the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24), Jesus is our Friend (John 15:14-15) and will never leave (us), nor forsake (us) (Heb. 13:5).

Word Studies:

16:2 spirits = motives; 16:8 without right = dishonestly gained; 17:18 striketh hands . . . surety = gives a pledge to be responsible for his neighbor?s debts; 18:2 discover itself = express itself; 18:3 with ignominy reproach = with dishonor and disgrace; 19:3 fretteth = is resentful; 19:7 they are wanting to him = they abandon him; 19:13 a continual dropping = an unending irritation.

Prayer Needs:

Pray For Staff: Amber Allen • Government Officials: Rep. Andy Barr (KY), Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO) • Country: Trinidad and Tobago (1,223,916) Off the coast of Venezuela • Major Languages: English, Hindi • Religious Freedom • 32.1% Protestant; 21.6% Roman Catholic; 18.2% Hindu; 5% Muslim; 1.5% Jehovah's Witness; 8.4% Other; 2.2% None; 11% Unspecified • Prayer Suggestion: Bless the Lord at all times regardless of circumstances (Ps. 34:1).

Memory Verse:

James 1: 22 - 27

James 21

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

James 22

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 23

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

James 24

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

James 25

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

James 26

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

James 27

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Devotion courtesy Bible Pathway Ministries