Oh, be careful little lips what you say,
Oh, be careful little lips what you say,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little lips what you say.
I can remember singing that song at home, Sunday school, and VBS. I know the words by heart, but do I really apply what is in those lyrics to my daily life? Are my lips careful of what they say? The Father up above is looking down in tender love, and He wants me to say the right things, but am I doing that? How do I know what to say, what not to say, and when, where, why, and how to say it?
That’s what I’m going to talk about today. I’ve looked up several verses having to do with controlling the tongue, and I’m going to try to lay it out to make the point given in the Bible.
First off, I’d like to start with Jesus’ own words about the tongue, how what comes out of the mouth defiles a person. He was telling the scribes and Pharisees how someone can honor God with their lips, but their hearts can still be far from Him, and their worship in vain. He says in Matthew 15:10-11, “Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
No man can bridle his own tongue, for it is impossible to tame, but we need to carefully control our words, and allow God to bridle the tongue for us.
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
“Look also at the ships; although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” (James 3:1-12)
What should we NOT speak?
-Lies and flattery
“A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Proverbs 26:28)
“Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)
“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.” (Colossians 3:9)
-Evil and deceit
“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” (Psalm 34:13)
What SHOULD we speak?
-Praise, Worship, and Thanksgiving
“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.”(Ephesians 5:19-20)
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, thefruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
“Wise men store up knowledge, but with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.” (Proverbs 10:14)
“In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs.” (Ecclesiastes 12:9)
“The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words or truth correctly.” (Ecclesiastes 12:10)
“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)
“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16b)
When should we speak up?
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
“’But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ ‘…When I say to the wicked, “O wicked man, you will surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn the wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” (Ezekiel 33:6,8-9)
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in wish you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-17)
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– …A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7b)
-When someone needs help/ encouragement
“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)
How are we to speak?
-With love, gentleness, and compassion
“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal… But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1,13)
“Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
-Wisely and without anger
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him… This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:5,19-20)
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)
Let’s challenge ourselves to speak the right things that God intended us to, and to be better encouragers everyday.
Have a blessed day!