The Book of Proverbs

Lesson 3 - “Mastering Your Mouth”

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We have been doing a study from the book of Proverbs. We’ve already looked at Solomon’s request for an understanding heart to rule God’s people which pleased the Lord and last week we looked at “Help for Hotheads” and the scriptural answer to anger management. Today we want to look at what we call “Mastering your mouth.”

We have all heard the statement, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." That's a lie because words do hurt. Most broken bones heal in a few weeks or months, but the hurt done by words can last a lifetime. Many adults still feel the emotional hurt of thoughtless words spoken to them in their early childhood.

The book of Proverbs reveals the awesome power of words. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” This verse tells us our tongues have the power to do two awesome things—hurt or heal. To master our mouths, we must consider several things,

#1) The Uncontrolled Mouth

The book of Proverbs gives us at least three ways to identify an uncontrolled mouth...

A.   It is a lying mouth. In Proverbs, God has much to say about people who lie. Have you noticed people are fascinated with lists? For example each year there are lists of the richest people in the world and the best-dressed people in America. Of course we also have the Ten Commandments in the Bible, as well as a list of six things the Lord hates; yea, seven are an abomination unto him in Proverbs 6:16-19. Number two on that list is a lying tongue.  It is also really important to notice number six on the list. It is “A false witness that speaketh lies.

Two of the seven things God hates most involve lying. Why do you think that God hates lying? I believe it’s because lying and liars are polar opposites of God's nature! Jesus, who is God incarnate said: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

We said that an uncontrolled mouth is a lying mouth, and...

B.   It is a gossiping mouth. In the book of Proverbs, God has much to say about gossip and often calls a person who gossips a "talebearer" or a "whisperer." One thing that makes gossip so dangerous and destructive is we all by nature love to hear it. Proverbs 18:8 says that, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”

The word translated wounds refers to tasty morsels. So, hearing gossip is like eating our favorite food, which is taken into our innermost being and stimulates our desire for more. Why do we like to hear gossip? Because we have the mistaken idea that when other people look bad, it makes us look better.

Who exactly is a talebearer, or a gossip? It is someone who repeats the private affairs of others. Some people justify gossip by saying, "Well it's the truth!" So what? When you spread hurtful information that is false, that's slander. Gossip is repeating the private affairs of others, even when the information is true. One of the most damaging aspects of gossip is that it ruins relationships.

We all know of broken relationships and destroyed friendships that are the result of gossip. The only reason a loving Christian should share sensitive, personal information is to help the person or to protect someone else from being hurt by that person.

We said that an uncontrolled mouth is a lying mouth, it is a gossiping mouth and...

C.   It is a cursing, or profaning, mouth. In our culture, profanity is becoming more and more commonplace and acceptable. Proverbs 4:24 says, “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” The Hebrew word translated perverse means foul or deviating from what is considered right. According to a study conducted by a Florida State University communications professor, profanity during primetime television increased by 58% between 1997 and 2004. This indicates profanity is becoming acceptable, even among Christians. Ephesians 4:29 says that we are to, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” The word translated corrupt means bad, rotten, or foul. It was used to refer to rotten fruit or food. Foul language should be as repulsive to a Christian as a rotten egg. Profanity, dirty jokes, and vulgarity should never come out of a Christian's mouth. That's why the Bible says in Ephesians 5:4, Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient.”

-So we’ve seen that the uncontrolled mouth is a lying mouth, a gossiping mouth, and a cursing mouth. Now let's talk about...

#2) How To Master Your Mouth

There are at least four things we must do to master our mouths:

A. Always be candid. This means we should be frank and honest and not deceitful. If we want to build relationships with anyone, we must be honest. Being candid and honest also means telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Therefore, we must always remember the truth found in Proverbs 27:6a which says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

If we are true friends, we will tell our friends the truth to help them, even if it might make them angry with us. But remember this: Always compliment in public and correct in private. No marriage, friendship, or other relationship can survive unless it is built on candidness and honesty.

B. Always be confidential. There are very few people who can be trusted with sensitive, personal information. We all need people with whom we can share our hurts, fears, and frustrations. When someone shares personal, private information with us, we need to remember the truth found in Proverbs 11:13 which says, “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” One of the quickest ways to hurt people is to repeat a confidence. However, if we want to master our mouths, we will always be confidential.

C. Always be constructive. Few things are more needed in our world than constructive          words—words that heal, uplift, and encourage! Proverbs 16:24 tells us “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” We should always be on the lookout for opportunities God gives us to speak a constructive, encouraging word to family members, friends, and associates. We encounter people every day who are dying for a kind, encouraging word. That's why we need to remember what Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” This means they are beautiful and valuable. A person who knows the right words to say is like an artist who can make beautiful, valuable things out of silver and gold. The most valuable thing you can give most people is a word of constructive encouragement.

We said that to master your mouth we must always be candid, confidential, constructive, and….

D.   Always be constrained. Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is constrain our words and say little or nothing at all. We all have suffered from the proverbial "foot-in-mouth disease." One of the most frequent complaints from couples who are struggling in their marriages is "he or she doesn't listen to me." When we get to know people, we sometimes think we know what they are going to say before they say it. So, we just listen to the first part of the comment or question and then starting responding. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

Another excellent time to constrain our words is when someone says something very foolish. Getting into a debate with a fool is a big mistake. Proverbs 26:4 says, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” If you get into an argument with a fool and someone overhears the discussion, he or she won't be able to tell which one is the fool.

-How about you? Do you have control over your tongue? Have you mastered your mouth?

-The book of James in the New Testament says this about the tongue in James 3:2-8, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

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