We’ve all done it; we’ve all been there. The proverbial, “put my foot in my mouth” occasion. Maybe it was something we said that we instantly regretted or maybe it was more the timing of when we said it. I won’t give any personal examples but several instances come to mind. There are some humerus quotes out there that you will find in the form of signs or posters that point to this all-too-common occurrence; quotes such as, “Danger: Mouth operates faster than brain.” Or another that reads, “I spend a great deal of my life realizing I should have shut up 10 minutes ago.” Or finally, “I don’t always say something stupid, but when I do, I keep talking to make it worse.”
While we can all get a chuckle at these lines, the reality is that many of us have experienced anything from awkward and embarrassing moments up through damaged relationships because of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. However, our reading today brings us to a very applicable proverb. The book of Proverbs 10:32 reads, “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.” Let’s focus on the first part of that verse, “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable.” The word acceptable is the idea of proper or fitting. It’s saying the right thing at the right time; or as is often the case, not saying anything at all.
The ability to control one’s tongue is something all of us struggle with from time to time. In fact, James reminds us in chapter 3 that if a man would be able to control his tongue that he’d be able to control his whole body, insinuating that controlling one’s tongue is the “zenith” of self-control. Yet this proverb reminds us that, with the Lord’s help and control, we are able to be characterized as someone who does indeed say the right thing at the right time. As opposed the wicked person who truly has an out-of-control-mouth, God is able to give us the strength and ability to control our tongue so as to only say what is right and proper. And as any reader who also holds a secular job like myself, the person who is able to practice of lifestyle of proper speech truly will stand out in our wicked society.