Have you ever had your mouth washed out with soap? It isn’t a pleasant experience! There was an older kid in our neighbourhood, when I was a child, who was accustomed to using filthy language. When my little brother and I were around him, we tried to imitate him because we thought that was how big kids talk. We knew that what we were doing was against the rules, but we thought we could get away with it. One day, while we were practicing “big-kid talk” and laughing at what we were saying, my mother overheard our conversation!
Since I was the older son, and should have been a good example to my brother, I received the “cleansing treatment” first. She explained to us what she was going to do. It didn’t take long and wasn’t scary, but it sure was humbling! I could hear my little brother snickering behind me as I was going through the ordeal. Then it was his turn! He didn’t think it was funny anymore! The soap she used had a pleasant smell to it, but it did not taste good! As you probably already know, it wasn’t my mouth and my tongue that were the real sources of the problem. It was my heart. But having my mouth washed out with soap gave me a change of heart!
My mother got the point across and the lesson was learned. As I think of my mother, I cannot ever remember her cursing, swearing, or using filthy language. I’m thankful to God and to her that the use of such language has never become a habit for me. However, there are other kinds of language that we have all been guilty of, and struggle with from time-to-time. Evangelist Billy Graham said, “You can use your tongue to slander, to gripe, to scold, to nag, and to quarrel, or you can bring it under the control of God’s Spirit and make it an instrument of blessing and praise.”
There is a verse of Scripture on stewardship of speech that I memorized many years ago, and I continue to review it often. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it might impart grace to those who hear.” (Revised Standard Version) That verse reminds me to ask myself two questions before speaking: First, “Is this the right thing to say, in God’s sight?” And, if so, then secondly: “Is this the right time to say it?”
“Let the words of my mouth
And the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14 (NASB)
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