Proverbs 21:23

Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.

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Here is valuable wisdom! If you rule your speech, you will save yourself from trouble. Your mouth and tongue are two of your greatest enemies. If you will keep them under control and only speak the right words at the right time, your life will be blessed. It is unruled speech that gets men into all sorts of trouble. Here is wisdom for a good life.

You can get into trouble by filthy talking, foolish talking, and jesting. You can damage your reputation, hurt others’ feelings, and waste time with such talking. God despises such speech, though they are very popular with the present generation; and He is coming soon to judge the world for these very sins (Pr 14:9; 26:18-19; Eccl 7:6; Eph 4:29; 5:3-7).

You can get into trouble talking negatively about others. Men will know you are wicked, and you will create enmity and strife. Though easy to commit, the blessed God hates backbiting, slander, talebearing, and whispering. They are much like murder, in that they destroy another’s reputation (Pr 10:18; 11:13; 16:28; 18:8; 20:19; 25:23; 26:20-22).

You can get into trouble by complaining. Who likes a complainer? The LORD hates complaining, and He judges it severely (Num 11:1; Ps 106:24-27). Jesus Christ is coming soon with angels to judge complainers (Jude 1:14-16). It is God’s will for your mouth and tongue to give thanks (Phil 2:14; Col 3:17; I Thes 5:18). This generation is unthankful, so God has judged the world with darkness and sodomy (Rom 1:20-27; II Tim 3:2).

You can get into trouble by over committing. Solomon warned his son about taking on the obligations of others as a surety, such as cosigning loans hastily or extensively (Pr 6:1-5; 22:26-27). It is so easy and thrilling to offer your guarantee for the performance of another, because it gives you an important role in their lives. But wisdom should guard your mouth from creating unnecessary and excessive obligations (Pr 22:3; I Cor 7:32).

You can get into trouble by vows to God. In the difficulties of a painful situation, it is easy to promise things to God to persuade Him to deliver you. But the Lord warns against such oaths (Eccl 5:1-3). It is better not to vow at all, than to vow and not pay (Eccl 5:4-7).

You can get into trouble by name calling. Jesus Christ taught that name calling without a holy cause was a violation of the sixth commandment, the law against murder (Matt 5:21-22). Railing and reviling, which are name calling and abusive language, are condemned by Scripture (Ex 22:28; I Cor 5:11; 6:10; I Pet 3:9). A child that cursed his parents died under Moses’ law (Pr 20:20; Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9; Deut 27:16). Take that Hollywood!

You can get into trouble by lying. Everyone hates a liar. No one can trust a liar. Severe punishments are reserved for liars and perjurers. And all liars shall spend eternity in the lake of fire (Rev 21:8,27; 22:15). Honesty in all situations is not only the best policy; it is the holy requirement of the God of truth (Pr 12:22; Ex 20:16; Lev 19:11; Eph 4:25).

You can get into trouble by disrespecting authority. Do not curse the king even in your thoughts or bedroom (Eccl 10:20). A little bird will carry the wicked words, and you will be in trouble. God despises those who speak evil of rulers (II Pet 2:10-12; Jude 1:8-10). Children must honor parents, wives their husbands, employees their employers, and church members their pastors (Eph 5:33; 6:1-3; I Thes 5:12-13; Titus 2:9-10; I Pet 3:5-6).

You can get into trouble by arguing and debate. Wise men listen rather than talk (Pr 17:27-28; Eccl 7:5). A woman should avoid contention and emphasize kindness (Pr 19:13; 21:19; 27:15; 31:26). God’s ministers reject foolish and unlearned questions, for they are the marks of fools and scorners (I Tim 1:4; 4:7; 6:3-5; II Tim 2:14,16,23; Titus 3:9). Wise men study before talking (Pr 15:28), especially God’s ministers (II Tim 2:15).

You can get in trouble by hurting those around you. Spouses, children, and friends can easily be hurt by cutting words (Pr 12:18; Eph 6:4; Col 3:19). Harsh words stir up anger and cause fights to escalate (Pr 15:1). Relationships are destroyed, bitterness created, and your future dulled by hard words. It is men and women with gracious speech that will be held in high esteem (Pr 11:16; 22:11). It is a command to use gracious words (Col 4:6).

How can you avoid trouble with your mouth and tongue? First, cut your words in half, for many words always contain sin (Pr 10:19). Second, slow down and emphasize listening before speaking (Pr 29:20; Jas 1:19). Third, remember that you will give an account for every idle word and be judged for your words (Matt 12:34-37). Fourth, pray like David, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps 141:3).

Rather than trouble, the man who guards his mouth and tongue will enjoy the good life, guaranteed by the infallible word of God. “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Ps 34:12-13). Peter also quoted these wonderful words of promise (I Pet 3:10).

There was never trouble for the Lord Jesus Christ by His mouth and tongue. He spoke like no other man in world history (Ps 45:2; Isaiah 50:4; Luke 4:22; John 7:46). He could comfort a widow at her only son’s funeral, or he could expose Pharisee heresy to the delight of His audience (Luke 7:11-18; Matt 7:28-29). There was nothing to charge Him for at His trial, so the Jews falsely accused Him by perverting His pure words (Matt 26:59-61). His pure words will soon judge them for their sins (Matt 7:21-23).