Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Psalm 50 spells out the sin of the unclean use of the mouth and its consequences. Many in God’s house have taken His Word lightly on this matter.
“You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. ‘Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:19-23).
So, why don’t we fear and reverence God’s Word on this matter? Why do we so easily speak of others with vain words? Why do we continue to use words carelessly, with an uncontrolled tongue? This psalm tells us why: “You thought that I was altogether like you.”
Simply put, we make God out to be like ourselves. We bend His Word to reflect our own tendency to judge the outward person. And we ignore God’s ways of considering the hidden, deeper issues of a person’s heart.
Essentially, the Lord is telling us, “I’m going to reprove you, because I want you to set this matter in order. You have to see your defilement the way I do: as wicked and evil, a serious danger to your soul.”
As a minister of the Lord, I want Christ’s life to flow out of my preaching. And as a husband, father and grandfather, I want it to flow out of me freely to my family. Therefore, the fountainhead of Christ’s life in me cannot be polluted. I cannot allow any poison in the spring, or any roadblocks to hinder its free flow in me.
But this must be a conscious decision on my part. I must cry out to the Holy Spirit continually, “Lord, convict me each time I defile myself.” David made this kind of determination. He wrote, “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (Psalm 17:3). “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
You may wonder, “Is it really possible to control the tongue, to purpose not to sin with the mouth?” David answers with this testimony: “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me’” (39:1). He’s saying, in essence, “Every time I mount a horse, I have to put a bridle in its mouth. And as surely as I do that with my horse, I have to do it with my tongue.”