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Proverbs 21:23 (NLT)

Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.

I love to play the game Jenga. It’s a tower made up of individual wooden rectangular blocks stacked in “floors” of three blocks each and ends up being about 20 “stories” high. Players take turns removing a single block from a lower floor and then placing it on the top to start a new floor. With each passing move, the tower becomes more unstable. The more you play – the more likely the tower is to crash. So it is with the words that come out of your mouth.

The math regarding the impact of our words is simple – the more you talk, the greater the likelihood that you will encounter trouble. When in doubt, “keep your mouth shut”. When you do talk, choose your words wisely (watch your tongue). Think before you speak. Calm down before you speak. Consider your audience before you speak. If you have time and the situation is tense, pray before you speak. Even a simple, “Lord, help me” prayer can pack a punch.

I found at least 100 verses about the power of our words, but two of them haunt me more than the others. In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” Have you ever said something hurtful and then pleaded, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to say that”? The biblical truth is, we mean to say everything that comes out of our mouths (Jer. 17:9). Sure, we all misspeak and fumble our words, but when it comes to the biting comment…the hurtful commentary…the loaded observation…the little “joke”…those find their root in the depths of our sinful hearts.

The other verse that hits me is Proverbs 18:21 where Solomon states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” When you speak, are you speaking words of life or words of death? Do your words lift people up, or tear them down? If you love to talk – like I do – you will be chowing down regularly on the fruit of your words. It’s up to you to determine if that fruit is sweet…or bitter…but remember the math and the Jenga tower: “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”

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