Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
keeps himself out of trouble.
So much trouble comes from words because words reveal the heart, and the heart is at its core broken and sinful. Words can be massively destructive. My mother may have tried to comfort me with "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." But even this well-intentioned advice backfires in the stinging tears of ridicule and attack by another person's words. The truth is that words can and often do wound people. That is why this simple proverb is profound wisdom to heed.
I want to be a man of few words, if only so that I can keep my mouth and guard my tongue. But because ministry is so communication intense for all the right reasons, my words can get in the way if I am not careful. I have to teach a lot, talk with people a lot, often about very difficult and personal subjects. And I wince when my words get in the way of God's Word, which unfortunately happens from time to time. I hate that it happens. It is very, very hard to keep my big mouth, my selfish pride, and my personal demands out of the conversation, especially if it shifts to being "about me".
But if I slip, the gospel works for the sins of my mouth! Praise God! Repentance is communication to God and people that my words and actions hurt and were wrong. I then turn to God's Word for correction when my words failed. If I center what I need to say and believe lovingly around God's Word, I stand the best chance of keeping my mouth out of the way. God's Word never sinfully wounds. It builds up, confronts, corrects, and encourages always with God's holy truth. May my words be fewer and may God's Word dominate my conversations so that the gospel is proclaimed, Jesus is made known, and God is made much of by "this poor, lisping, stammering tongue."