Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
I spoke about politics and how to vote at a local church recently and when I was leaving the building after greeting folks in attendance I was escorted to my car by a rather large and imposing fellow. At first, I thought it strange that this big dude was following me, but felt reassured when he said, “Don’t worry, I’m not some creepy dude following you. Pastor asked me to escort you to your car because – well – you never know where trouble might be lurking.” Apparently, they thought my well-being was something worth guarding.
Whenever you see a guard posted of any kind, it means there is something valuable to protect…or something dangerous to keep in its place. In the case of today’s Proverb – it’s both. What is of value when it comes to your mouth is your reputation, your conscience, and your witness as a follower of Christ. It is your ability to be a blessing in the lives of those around you by speaking words of life, encouragement, and wisdom. Sadly, in terms of danger, the source is exactly the same. The guard, in this case, has to do double-duty.
When we “open wide our lips” we cease to restrain the ugly impulses of our sinful nature and let fly whatever comes into our minds. Our desire to “get it off our chest” is nothing less than an excuse to spew the vile and hurtful things that can take up residence in our hearts. With the utterance of just a few words we can trash our reputation, burden our conscience, and do great harm to our witness as an Ambassador of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
The referenced passage in 2ndCorinthians includes the rather shocking and ironic statement, “…as though God were making His appeal through us.” Think about that the next time you are about to “open wide your lips” and simply ask: Is this something that the Lord Himself would utter right now? If it isn’t, make sure the guard stands his ground and keeps that gate shut. If it is, then by all means, have the guard step aside, open the gate, and let the blessings come forth.