November 18, 2019
How to Set a Watch Over Your Words
“LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 (CSB)
As soon as I walked into the house after dropping my son off at school, my phone rang. An arrest had taken place in the small town where I lived at the time. The caller wanted to know if I’d heard about a front-page story in the news that day and asked if I knew the person whose name was mentioned in the article. This individual had been caught embezzling money and, if convicted, the felony offense would likely result in a decades-long prison sentence.
I did know this person. His wife was one of my friends from church. My heart ached as I thought about what she might be going through since she was blindsided by the whole situation. Soon my phone started to ring. And I began hearing the “ding” of my computer alerting me that I had new email messages.
Knowing it was wrong to gossip about this situation with other people, I didn’t pick up the phone, and I ignored the emails because I was afraid someone might mention the incident to me. I wanted so much to honor God — and my friend — and not gossip about this situation. It was then that I felt God nudge me, saying, “Really? Then tell her that.”
So, I sent my friend a text message. I told her she was loved and treasured, that I could not imagine what she was going through, and then I texted this: I just want you to know that I will not be talking about this situation to anyone other than God. Please let me know how I can pray for you. And if you want to talk or need anything at all, call or text me. We love you.
Psalm 141:3 quickly became my prayer, “LORD, set up a guard for my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.” The Hebrew word for guard is not found anywhere else in Scripture except this verse. It means literally “a watch.” We are to guard against speaking wrongly by carefully watching — and weighing — our words before we let them escape our lips.
By contacting my friend and making a direct commitment to her, I felt like I was — in a tangible way — setting a “guard over my mouth.” And if I ever did feel tempted to bring up the situation, I zipped my lips before I could let any words emerge. I simply did not want to break a promise to a friend or to God.
Making this commitment to my friend was life-changing for me. Because I promised her I would not gossip, I didn’t. (Go figure!) If someone else brought up the situation, I simply let them know I had made a commitment to my friend that I wouldn’t discuss the situation with anyone other than her and God. The promise helped me to refrain from gossiping, and it also encouraged a few other people to do the same thing in their lives.
Truth be told: I’m sorry if this devotion has sent you to Google to locate the number of the nearest podiatrist since I’ve now stepped all over your toes. Be assured, my own pedicured piggies have been stomped on numerous times by the Bible’s advice on watching our words. But friends, we can’t go wrong when we choose to obey Scripture. Even the oh-so-hard-to-do parts.
Does today’s key verse prick your conscience? Could God be asking you to make a call, send a text or craft a private message to someone? Will you commit to not discuss what’s happening in someone’s life that others might find newsworthy in a gossipy sort of way?
If so, do it soon. You won’t be sorry.
Father, set a guard over my mouth today. Help me diligently watch and weigh all the words that I speak today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (ESV)
Proverbs 16:28, “A contrary person spreads conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” (CSB)
Need help watching your words? Check out Karen Ehman’s New York Times’ bestselling book, Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All.
For help in knowing what to say, how best to say it and when you’d better just keep your lips zipped, sign up for Karen’s free devotional series, 5 Days to Sweet and Salty Speech.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Is there someone you know who might be worried others are talking about her or about someone she loves? What small gesture can you do today to encourage her and assure her you won’t be gossiping about her?
Join the conversation! Let us know your thoughts from today’s devotion in our comments section.
© 2019 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.