Daily Office Readings for Friday of Proper 15 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)
So this verse of Psalm 141 reminds me of James’s letter where in parts of it he informs us about the negative attributes of the tongue. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9 – 11)
I have found in my life that in conversations where feelings are tested, it truly is better to have said nothing than to have said something I will regret later. More times than not I have found myself wishing I had not said something that I shouldn’t have said; than wishing I should have said something I didn’t say. And as I ponder these ideas I learn that if I am going to err, I want to err on the side of not speaking when I should have. This is just where I am at this moment in my life. It might be different tomorrow or next week. You must decide for yourself where you are in this matter of when to speak and not to speak.
Maybe it might be a matter of how much to speak. For example, when I disagree, I could just let my no, be no rather than adding a defense which often leads to a put-down of the person who differs from me. This is what Jesus said in Matthew, “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)
The second part of this verse is important too. Sometimes a nastiness welds up in my heart that oozes out of my lips and makes me regret I spoke. Such oozing is not who I am. But it happens. Sports announcers that I have really liked have been fired for random (so-called racist) statements made on the air. There was no pardon or forgiveness or even counseling. No, they were just fired and told to leave. In my heart I don’t believe they were bad people. What they said does not define who they were. We need to do better as a society, and definitely as Christians.
I will say that not everything I say defines who I am. I make mistakes. I need to be forgiven. And so should others, especially those who have shown to be good people who made one slip. Forgiving is Christian. It’s what we do. If what we say that is bad seems “repeatedly” to come from a hateful or unloving heart, then that heart is what needs to be addressed. This is where we pray “Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit that we may perfectly love you.” (BCP p. 355) God did not design us with the capability to repair our own hearts. We must go back to the Manufacturer. The Repairer awaits!
Bottom line: I think we need to run any words that come from the heart through our conscience before releasing them to the lips. And even the “I don’t know, but…” should be quieted and not allowed to have air time until properly screened.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people. John+