3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. (Psalm 141:3-4 NIV)
Words are powerful. Words can be used to bless and encourage. I can remember, from years and years ago, things people have said to me that lifted my spirits and encouraged my heart. Words can also be used to belittle, berate, humiliate, slander, and crush. I wish I could forget, but I remember painful things people have said to me from years ago. Some of the comments were made by people who were intending to put me in my place or to try and hurt me in some way, but others were made by those who simply didn’t think about what they were getting ready to say.
When hurtful, humiliating words fly my direction, my natural reaction is to strike back, to inflict more pain than I’ve felt. That is my natural reaction, but it sure isn’t a Christ-like reaction. When Jesus was on trial for His life, He listened to all kinds of accusations. His critics wanted nothing more than to destroy Him. They wanted to ruin His reputation. Ultimately, they wanted Him dead and gone. Lies, lies, and more lies were lobbed like hand grenades to try and destroy Him. He had every right to defend Himself, to set the record straight, but He didn’t. The high priest asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” Here was Jesus’ opportunity. Would He put His accusers in their place? Nope. Matthew tells us, “But Jesus remained silent.” (Matthew 26:63 NIV) What? Not a word? Why? Jesus remained silent because He knew who He was, He knew what He had said and done, and He knew that God was His Defender.
I’ve said things I shouldn’t have. Throughout my life there have been many things I’ve had to go back and ask forgiveness for from others I have hurt. I’m certain that there will be many other things that I will need to ask forgiveness for as well. But, one thing I am learning is this: If I will seek to live my life for the glory of God and seek to be a blessing to others with what I say, then this will greatly cut down on the hurtful, painful things that will come out of my mouth. This goal, this desire to follow in Jesus’ steps, will also enable me to refrain from defending myself or striking back when others say hurtful things to me.
My prayer today, Lord, is that I will think before I speak. Let my words be a blessing to those who hear them. When others say hurtful things to me, let me respond like Jesus and be silent.