Daily Office Readings for Friday 12 April 2019 Week 5 of Lent Year 1
“Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips; let not my heart incline to any evil thing.” (Psalm 141:3)
Hurtful speaking today can be compared to sending a hurtful email. We can type up anything we want to another person we’re upset with. But until we hit “Send” it is still just with us, hasn’t done any harm at all. But once we hit “send” it’s out there.
I know that sometimes I speak before I think. I hit the send button of my lips too quick. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. A “Blind Copy” also goes to God! When words come from our lips there is no “not blind copy.” Everything we send, we send to God also.
I used to teach service members who, were substantiated of domestic violence, that their violent actions were not an automatic reflex – that in fact no matter how fast it happened, it was a processed thought. The same is true with words, no matter how fast we respond or say something; it is always a processed thought.
I heard one person whom I respect deeply use the term “filter” to describe the way in which she modifies her words. I like the term. I like the prayer of the Psalmist even better, “Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips; let not my heart incline to any evil thing.” (Psalm 141:3)
I think that before we say something, we first think it. So if we are going to appeal to the Lord for help we should ask for the Lord’s help at the beginning, the very thought itself. Our Collect for Purity asks just that. It goes, “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthy magnify your Holy Name through Christ our Lord. Amen” (p. 355 BCP).
It is so embarrassing to fly-off-the-handle and say things we later regret. The discipline of restraint requires us to be in continual “think” mode. It requires us to hesitate at the risk of being late or considered “slow” of wit. Once we learn to just accept whatever other people think of our hesitation, we learn to speak in more loving and meaningful ways, or not speak at all. Just as there are loving and meaningful ways, so too are there are evil ways and things. This brings us back to the Psalmist who teaches us to go to God about our words and actions. “Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord, and guard the door of my lips; let not my heart incline to any evil thing.” (Psalm 141:3)
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to the people of the Creating Word and then let us “Ponder anew what the Almighty is doing.” John Thomas Frazier Sr.