During wartime, soldiers and sailors have to carefully watch what they say. Sometimes what they think are harmless, casual remarks can give the enemy information to use against them. For instance, sailors on shore leave can get too chatty and accidentally spill facts that lead to disastrous results – even the sinking of their ship.
I don’t think I’ve ever said anything to endanger an aircraft carrier, but I know my words have hurt people again and again. The careless words of my mouth have wounded, discouraged, grieved, and angered. My unchecked speech has torn down, set back, and destroyed.
Sometimes I realize what I’ve done even before the last word has stopped its echo. I am witness to their impact. Like the tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma last week, my words have the power to level. But it’s not man-made structures they demolish. Instead my words rip apart relationships. Fragment fragile hopes. Tear down trust.
God does not pull any punches when He talks about the power of tongue to do evil:
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:6, NIV
Serious business, isn’t it. Thankfully, we don’t have to let our tongues have the last word. (Yes, pun intended.) We may not be able to control our tongues, but the Holy Spirit can! Believer, we can submit ourselves and our tongues to Him.
This morning I read a prayer of David that I so desperately need. I know I’ve seen it before, but it really impacted me today.
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3, NIV
I have a friend who is outspoken like me. He often refers to his “filter.” When he actively stops things from coming out of his mouth, his filter is “working.”
The Holy Spirit wants to be our “filter.” Let’s allow Him to be the guard over our mouths. Then everything we say would first pass the Holy Spirit filter test. Then our words would only be edifying and encouraging. They would build up (Ephesians 4:29), not tear down!
Is your Holy Spirit filter working? When was the last time your words sunk a ship?