Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. Proverbs 21:23, 24
How often do we find ourselves careless with our speech and further yet, how careless are we with the way we express our speech to others? Friends this should not be so, and that’s why this passage in Proverbs 21 is so precious and practical for me. It reminds me to “keep” my mouth. But what does it mean to keep ones mouth?
In the original Hebrew translation of this passage the word used for keep is שָׁמַר (shamar), which contains a plethora of definitions including:
- To watch
- To observe
- To guard
- To be careful
- To be aware
- To cling to
- To observe oneself
And much more! This one word in the old Hebrew testifies to the beauty and depth of the Hebrew language. Although the word שָׁמַר is small in spelling, even smaller than its english contemporary keep, it packs meaty implications. That one word is a treasure chest of wisdom, and when you consider we have an entire Bible filled with millions of words like it, we realize we have much to learn, and we are all in progress! It’s no wonder the Scriptures make the simple wise as said in Psalms 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The point I’m making is, to follow any one of the definitions in the word “keep,” would be enough to transform my speech, however, we are given many definitions to consider making our maturity process even more dynamic! You would think that knowing the implications should change ones speech and yet, knowledge is not enough to transform speech. Infact, I have found that some of the most insensitive people I’ve encountered in my life have been other Christians with a lot of knowledge! I’ve been amazed of what has come out of the mouth of “Christians.” However, it realy shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering that knowledge puffs up..
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that”all of us possess knowledge.” This”knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
As the passage in Proverbs continues to unravel, we see that humility is at the core of a person who keeps his mouth by pointing out that it is the scoffer who is arrogant and prideful, and in return do not examine themselves. Jesus exposited on the root of humility when he was asked which was the greatest commandment in the law:
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40
Perhaps we can learn a thing or two of humility, if we learn to love our Lord. From love of the Lord stems love for our neighbor and the fulfillment of all the commandments! All that is righteous, good and pure, depends on loving the Lord. So if you love the Lord, meditate on His words, hear His commands, let them echo in the depths of your mind, and maybe you will “observe” words that are gracious, and then edifying speech will be kept on your tongue, and flow from your mouth!