Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Muzzle My Mouth

By Hayley Boud

Psalm 39:1b, “I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle”

Why should we guard our mouths? Why don’t we just say whatever we want, whenever we want and however we want?

Because if we are not careful, we can offend someone, we might stumble someone to sin, to become angry or we might turn them off Christ if we talk harshly or insensitively, or we might raise up their curiosity, or encourage them to talk about useless things, to gossip, joke about things that shouldn’t be joked about or if I speak before thinking I might say something that I don’t really mean, or I might talk too much and annoy people. It’s very easy to sin with the mouth; we can sin with words or with the tone. Sometimes we can use the right words but our tone lets us down.

James 3:2-10, especially verse 8, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly[or restless] evil, full of deadly poison”.

We know that snakes have poison in their mouths and they have a two pronged tongue and we know that the serpent represents satan. Our tongues can also be a serpent two-pronged tongue because one minute we are praising God and the next we are abusing someone with it. It is really hard to control the tongue, which is why this verse stood out to me when I was reading Psalms, because it’s not easy to put a muzzle over the mouth.

“I” means it’s up to my will. I decide. “Not my will but Yours God”. What is God’s will? Self-control, kindness, goodness, peace, joy, love, gentleness and faithfulness. Our mouths must always speak kindly with love and joy. Our mouths must always bring joy and peace to others, not the opposite. So we need to speak with kindness and gentleness and we need to show self-control when it seems impossible to do so. That is God’s will.

James 1:26, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue….this one’s religion is useless”.

“Guard”, guards will stand in front of an entrance to prevent either people going in or people going out. For example, guards will stand in front of a prison to prevent prisoners from leaving and before prisoners can be released, they have a hearing and a judge will examine them and decide whether the prisoner is a threat to society or if they will become a productive part of society to build up the community.

We have to do the same with our mouths. We have to examine our words and decide if they should remain in the mouth or whether they can come out. We have to ask ourselves before releasing the words, ‘is what I am about to say going to be productive or will it destroy. If I say this, will the person be encouraged or discouraged? Will they be lifted up or pulled down? Will they be inspired to work for God or will they feel like giving up? Will they be left with joy or will they feel disappointed? Will my words bring peace or will they stir up anger or provoke the person to sin? Will my words bring light or will they be full of jokes or useless comments or gossip?’

Examine our words first. Be on guard, like the prison guards, and don’t let the wrong words out.

Also, the Hebrew meaning of the word for “guard” is “to hedge around something” which makes me think of a fence around a home to keep the dogs in. If the dogs keep getting out then you have to fix the fence because there are consequences, maybe someone will get hurt or maybe the pound will pick up your dog and you’ll have to pay the fine. There are consequences to our words and if the wrongs ones keep escaping, then we have to fix the fence around our mouths. How do we do that? Think before you speak.

James 1:19,This you know, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;”

“This you know”, we already know this, but we still need reminding (every day)…be quick to listen. Let others talk, the more they talk, the less likely you’ll sin because they are doing all the talking and while they talk think very carefully before answering. When feelings rise up (anger, disappointment, sadness etc) take time before talking. Sometimes I count a few seconds in my head or I tell the person I’ll get back to them so I have time to calm down. Sometimes I tell God first before I tell the person.

“Muzzle”, is something that you put around the nose and mouth of a dog to prevent them from biting people or other dogs. We have to muzzle ourselves too. When a dog is muzzled, it actually changes the whole personality of the dog. The dog becomes extremely soft and humble. The dog hates to be muzzled because it’s not comfortable, and it feels so humiliating but it’s important to muzzle certain dogs because when a dog bites, the damage is serious and we are so sorry for that person. We can even feel sick. We should feel the same way when we make mistakes with our mouth, we should say, “I’ll use a muzzle from now on”.

So what is a muzzle? It’s a decision; we decide that we WILL change. We stop and think about all the people we have hurt in the past and we allow ourselves to feel bad and we ask God to remove that sin and then we promise to God that we will not do that anymore because we are genuinely sorry for our mistakes and we decide to muzzle our mouths….

Be slow to speak (count time, formulate an answer, remove the emotion)

Be quick to listen (try to understand the other person’s point of view)

Also, whatever is in our heart will eventually come out, so let's make sure to forgive, forget, remove any bitterness and keep our hearts pure.

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