The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin
Oh how much this proverb needs to be taught, grasped, and applied.
The word guards is the Hebrew word nasar which means to watch, guard, or keep. The word preserves is the Hebrew word samar which means to keep, guard, watch. What Solomon is pointing out is that when you are careful about what you say, you are really protecting your life. Keeping watch over your mouth is keeping watch over your life. This is a very important idea and relationship that many in our day and age do not understand.
If a person says whatever they want to whomever they want, they are invariably damaging relationships. That relational damage will come back to haunt them. What God continually points out is that life is relationships and what damages relationships instead of building them up, damages your enjoyment of life.
We have this naive opinion of who we are in this world; that we are this disconnected, solitary person. And we should be able to say whatever we think or would like to say, whether that is about someone or something or really anything. Our culture has elevated free speech to a right. It is, in reality, the right to be foolish and the right to destroy the most important things in our life by our own hand. God gives us a more accurate perspective of who we are in the world. We are one person who is connected to lots of other people and every advance that we make in life is the result of one of those connections. If we knowingly or flippantly damage one of these connections with others, we damage our own potential.
Most of us have to admit how stupid we have been at times by saying something to our spouse or friend or boss or colleague that we shouldn’t have said. Then we have to go to the trouble of trying to repair that relationship when if we had just listened to this proverb and put a guard over our mouth, we would have guarded our life.
LIFE IS RELATIONSHIPS – the better your relationships, the better your life. If you have a lot of stuff but no deep, loving, and positive relationships, then your life is not much of a life. But even if you have very little stuff but have lots of deep, loving relationships, then you have a wonderful life.
the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin
The word opens is the Hebrew word pasaq which means open wide. Let everything that is behind the partition out. Or as my fourth-grade teacher used to say: “Does every thought you think have to just come out your mouth?”
The word ruin is the Hebrew word mehitta which means destruction, ruin, terror. In other words, your life can become a living nightmare – everything you hoped wouldn’t happen – if you don’t close your mouth. I wonder how many people have ever thought that the life they are presently living is often the direct or indirect result of whether they guarded their mouth or just let fly.
Too often we have just let fly with words that we can never take back. Once they are out there, they can never be taken back and the weight and damage they cause continues to crash around in the minds of those who heard it. Don’t say everything that you could. Don’t comment on everybody and everything; it doesn’t need to be done.
Every job you have received is because of a relationship with someone; it was nurtured through what you said. Every friendship you have ever had was nurtured through things you said. Every evening you have enjoyed at home with family was nurtured long before by things that you said. Realize that what you say is the bed you will sleep in your whole life.
Now it is best to say positive things; but if you are not at that point, then just cut down on the destructive things that you say. Stop gossiping; stop running people down; stop providing negative commentary about everyone or everything. You only destroy your own potential. Set a guard over your mouth.
If you argue with your parents each time they make a suggestion, it diminishes that relationship. If you have a sarcastic comment about everyone at school, pointing out the flaws and weaknesses in everyone, you don’t enhance how much people like you. If you let every opinion you have be known, you will run the great risk of having few friends and a limited potential.
Make a commitment today that you will set a guard over your mouth and not talk negatively today.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.