Left to my own devices, I think my mouth would get me into a lot of trouble. There is an edge to me, an acerbic wit that cuts and stings, a biting sarcasm that belittles and mocks. Even the subtitle on this blog says, “Random Thoughts from a Snarky Presbyterian Pastor.” Used to be, these rejoinders would just flow, leaving a wake of destruction. I’d find myself prattling on with nothing really to say, but just talking because I love the sound of my own voice.
Nowadays, I cannot seem to come up with anything until a couple of hours later. While running through a conversation in my mind, it will come to me, “I should have said…” Snippy little comebacks don’t come to me quickly. Usually all I can muster up now is a half-hearted “So’s your old man!”, and I never say it, knowing how ridiculous that sounds.
Maybe I’m just getting old, and the tongue has lost some of its fire – but I doubt that.
God is working in me, pouring out His grace in ways that will help me to crucify the old nature, the old man within me, and to live the new life in the power of His Spirit.
Jesus told his disciples, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19). Now, clearly, Jesus is encouraging His disciples that when they face persecution for their faith, the Spirit will give them the witness and the words they are to speak. But can we not say that the opposite may be true, that sometimes the Spirit does not give us words, so that we will remain quiet?
Consider some of the passages from the Proverbs about how we speak:
Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 17:27–28 “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”
Then there is the American Proverb:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
I firmly believe it is the Spirit of God who is working in me to restrain my tongue. It is the grace of God that keeps me from being the me I used to be. It is the Spirit who is waging war against the nature of the flesh, the “… enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy…” so that God’s Spirit may produce in me “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.”