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Five Filters For Our Mouths

Have you ever had one of those moments where you want to retract a combination of words that spilled out of your mouth?

Being an extrovert, unfortunately, I have had my share of moments. There have been times where I meant to say the words and other times I never intended for the words to come across the way they did. But like the spill on aisle three announced over the loudspeaker, whether it was intentional or unintentional; the mess of words have become public creating a need for cleanup.

Have you ever had moments where empty words void of purpose streamed out of your mouth?

Once again, I have had my share of those moments as well. God has worked with me about what comes out of my mouth. The Bible has a lot to say about the topic. My Bible is marked over 30 times in the book of Proverbs alone with a set of lips indicating verses of truth concerning what spills or streams out of my mouth.

To be held accountable for the hurtful unintentional or intentional words is logical to me. Even my unintentional hurtful words require an element of clean up because Christ challenges me to value relationships over being right. But what about those conglomeration of words formed into a conversation which are mindless? No harm, no foul?

Directly from the mouth of Jesus, we will indeed be held accountable for those types of words. Matthew 12:36 is one of the most disturbing and convicting teachings in the Bible about the subject of what comes out of our mouths.

“But I tell you, on the day of judgment people will have to give an accounting for every careless or useless word they speak.” Matthew 12:36 AMP

How many times have I rambled on or participated in what perhaps was not damaging conversation, but was far from beneficial? Barren, idle, inactive, and unemployed are a few other descriptive words to help paint the picture from the possible translation from the Greek word, argos, used in this verse to describe the words for which we will be held accountable.

Jesus implies an expectation of our words, “every” one of them are to be productive, fruitful and with purpose. Take a moment and evaluate your past five conversations. How productive and useful were they?

“…for every empty word they have spoken.” NIV

Is this referring to innocent chats over coffee ending in laughter over nothing? This is where the disturbing part comes in. The more we think about the amount of empty words spoken in a day the more convicted we can become. Let’s not stop our reflection there.

We are living in a time where careless and useless words can quickly advance our recognition on any social media platform giving us the most likes, shares or views. Empty and meaningless as well as the hurtful kind of words gain us immediate attention and are more valued than the consideration of any long term effects these words may have. After all we boast of our rights here in the USA, which include our right to free speech.

Or do we have rights?

For those who call ourselves Christian, we gave up our rights when we chose to follow Christ and His ways. The good news is when we are given an expectation, we are also given ways through Christ to strive to meet them. We gain power through His death on the cross. Even with our mouth, under the influence of the Holy Spirit we are given strength and wisdom for when to restrain and when to speak up.

“He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.” 1 Peter 2:24, NLT

How do we make our words purposeful, useful and God honoring? Here are five filters to run our words through.

  1. Heart – The heart is our primary all-encompassing filter. Why do I want to say these things? Is my heart in line with God’s heart? “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart… What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Luke 6:45, NLT

  2. Healing – With our hearts in the right place, our words will choose to be healing over hurtful. “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” Proverbs 12:18 NLT

  3. Helpful – Incorporating helpful words into our conversations brings depth to our words and benefits those who hear. “The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.” Proverbs 10:32 NLT

  4. Heed – When we heed or give more attention to what we say, we position ourselves to allow the Spirit to give us life giving words, words with purpose and avoid empty useless words. “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.” Proverbs 15:28 NLT

  5. Hold our tongue – The most difficult filter of all, but possible with Spirit infused self-control. This is not the last filter, but our first filter for our mouth. We need to hold our tongue while we do a heart check, heed the words we are about to speak and determine if they are helpful or healing. “Whoever belittles another lacks sense, but an intelligent person remains silent.” Proverbs 11:12 NRSV

The use of these five filters aid in the mindfulness of what comes out of our mouth. It reminds me of a Psalm I have prayed often over my mouth, “Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips.” (Psalm 141:3,NLT) The NRSV puts it this way, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

With God guarding our mouths and watching our lips, does this mean we are no longer able to have lighthearted conversations? Simple conversations have their place in a community where connection comes into play. However, we would do well to evaluate the amount of conversations like these, that we have. Do our chats stay at the lighthearted level or do we have a turn point where our words breathe life and encourage our listener? Chats, comments and posts on social media need to be held under the microscope as well. Are these chats, comments and posts God honoring?

Whatever our answers may be, learning to run our words through a filter needs to become a habit.

“You will have to give an account for every careless word you utter….for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12: 36-37, NRSV

Imagine a world where we were less careless and more thoughtful with our words.

Dig Deeper: Matthew 27:11-14; Isaiah 53:7; James 3:1-10; Proverbs 4:22-24, 6:2, 10:8 & 18-21, 15:23, 16:24, 21:23, 26:4

Meditation: God be the guard over my mouth

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(AMP – Amplified Bible, NIV – New International Version, NLT – New Living Translation, NRSV – New Revised Standard Version)

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