Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Not true.

Your words can hurt others. Your words can hurt you.

You might need a muzzle. 

I use words. Lots of words. I have conversations. Long conversations. I tell stories. Long stories. I preach sermons. Long... you get the picture. About the only thing I do with words that is short is tweet. 140 characters or less. There’s some economy for you.

So, the other day, reading in the midst of my Bible in a year plan a verse jumped off the page and smacked me on the mouth. Psalm 39:1 HCSB says: 

I said, "I will guard my ways so that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle as long as the wicked are in my presence."

One proverb. Two statements. A couplet. It’s Hebrew parallelism. This type is progressive parallelism. Makes one statement, then the second statement of the couplet progresses beyond the first.

What do we learn from this proverb?

Guard our tongues lest we sin. Gotcha. It’s a needed aphorism. Many of us are good at getting ourselves into trouble by what we say.

Then the second half—the progressive part that moves beyond the first—tells us not only to guard our prone-to-sin-mouths, but to muzzle ourselves. When? When wicked folks are near.

What’s the point?

Our words can be sinful. They can hurt others. They can hurt us. And our own sinful words can be as fearsome as the bite of a vicious dog when uttered in the earshot of the wicked. The wicked take sin and make it worse. Scary worse. Call the pound worse. Put that animal down worse.

Watch your mouth, Friends.

Muzzle as needed.

Your Words

Your words can hurt others.

Your words can hurt you too.

I’ll never forget it.  I was a newly minted teenager.  Full of myself.  Angry at my little sister.  I’d done something hurtful to her in my anger.  She told Mom.  I got in trouble.  Then, in the self-serving righteous indignation that my sister was really wrong & I was really right, I got even angrier.  In my anger, I recall making a conscious choice.  A choice I’d never made before but knew I’d act on now to express the depth of the mistreatment I felt I was suffering.  I cursed.  To my mother.

I don’t remember much that happened after that.  Mom’s eyes on fire.  Her hands like lightning.  Jerked up her jerk son.  Yanked my mouth opened.  And filled it with a pump squirt of LOC.  Soap.

Amway’s LOC (Liquid Organic Cleaner) was kept under our kitchen sink since it had many household uses.  “Multi-Purpose Cleaner” the label says.  “Washing out teen boy potty mouth,” was just one of the many uses my Mom had now discovered.

I learned a lesson that day.  Not the apparent, “Don’t be dumb enough to curse in front of your God-fearing Mama.”  I had calculated the use of that curse word to hurt others, but that word ended up hurting me.  That was the real lesson.

Your words can hurt others.

Your words can hurt you too.

There is enough hurt in the world, don’t you agree?  Why don’t we make a decision - actually many, daily decisions - to use our words to help instead of hurt?  Blessing instead of cursing?  Praying instead of complaining?

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what help, each word is a gift. Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

Say It

I am older than I might like to admit.  Past the big-four-oh. Some days the "oh" is louder than others. 

I am a "grown man."  By most definitions.  Unless I am acting like a kid.  A Daddy has to at times.

I am a Christ follower, husband, father, & pastor.  I am blessed beyond my imagination.

Yet when a dear brother I respect wrote to me, "I am proud of you!," my heart leapt.

Words are powerful, Friends.

Words can injure.  Or cure.

Words can hinder.  Or encourage.

If you have a blessing to offer, then write it.

Share it.

Say it.