We have three pairs of openings: two eyes, two ears, and two nostrils.
But God decided to restrict the seventh opening – the mouth - to one.
I have never met anyone who wished they had an extra mouth. For most of us, one mouth causes more problems than all the other holes in our head put together.
Now, if you take a Bible concordance and look up all the words related to your mouth, such as ‘tongue,’ ‘lips,’ ‘speech,’ ‘words,’ and so on, you will be amazed how much the Bible has to say about this subject. There is no area in our personality more directly related to our well-being and peace of heart than our mouth – especially our tongue.
First, consider Psalm 34:11-13: Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies’ Here, the psalmist implies that ‘life’ and ‘many good days’ go with the fear of the LORD. The Word of God teaches us that life in its fullness and the fear of the LORD are always associated together.
Practically speaking, where does the fear of the LORD begin? It is very clear – the psalmist says, ‘Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies’. In other words, the first area of our life in which the fear of the LORD will be practically manifested is our tongue and our lips.
If we can keep our tongue from evil and our lips from speaking lies, then we can move on into the fullness of the fear of the LORD. Then, out of the fear of the LORD comes life and many good days. The fear of the LORD, life, good days, and the proper use and control of our tongue and our lips are all bound together. We cannot really have good lives if we do not control our tongue and our lips.
Proverbs 13:3 states: ‘He who guards his lips guards his soul, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.’
Your soul is your whole personality. It is the real you – the area where your weaknesses will first be manifested. If you want to guard your soul, you must guard your lips. But if you speak rashly, you will come to ruin. The alternatives are very clear. If you control the tongue, then you have protection; but if your tongue gets out of control and you are not master of your words, then the end is ruin. It is so clear; there are no blurred edges. The whole book of Proverbs is full of these principles.
Consider Proverbs 21:23: ‘He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity’
Again, the vital area that you must protect is your mouth and your tongue. Once again, the alternatives are black and white. There are no gray areas – if you guard your mouth and tongue, then you guard your soul and your life. You are safe. But if you fail to do that the alternative is calamity. ‘Calamity’ is a very strong word and it is used deliberately. The failure to guard our lips and our tongue will ultimately bring us to calamity.
There are two other passages in the book of Proverbs concerning the use of the tongue which are particularly important:
‘A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness there in is a breach in the spirit’ (Proverbs 15:4).
Where this passage says ‘a wholesome tongue’ – the literal Hebrew says, ‘The healing of the tongue’ – this clearly indicates that our tongues can need healing. ‘The healing of the tongue is a tree of life’ – notice the close connection between life and the correct use of the tongue. The alternative is ‘perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit’ – perverseness means ‘the wrong use’ – The misuse of the tongue is a breach, or a leak, in the spirit.
I remember reading a story about a visiting preacher praying for a certain person in the congregation – the preacher said, ‘LORD, fill this lady with the Holy Spirit’. But the pastor who knew her said, ‘LORD don’t, because she leaks’. Many get filled and blessed, but it runs out through a leaky tongue. You must keep a tight reign on your tongue if you are going to contain the blessing of the LORD. It is one thing to be blessed; it is another thing to contain the blessing. The healing of the tongue is a tree of life that brings life to others.
‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit’ (Proverbs 18:21).
The alternatives are always so clear in scripture – it is either death or life. They are both in the power of the tongue. If we use our tongues properly, they will be a tree of life. But if we use our tongues improperly, then the result is death; and whichever way we use our tongues, we can be sure we will eat the fruit. Each one of us eats the fruit of our own tongue. If the fruit is sweet, we will eat sweet fruit. If the fruit is bitter, we will feed on bitter fruit.