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Worry To Wise - Speach

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what it means to "guard our mouth"

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It’s March 11th and we are heading right into March break and here we are still in the midst of our series from Proverbs that we started way back at the beginning of the year
And yet with already having said so much I find that there is still so much more that I want to say, still with Easter just around the corner I will have to prioritize these last couple of messages
That being said, I want to focus in on something that is extremely important to all of us and something we can all relate to, the necessity to guard our mouth
Now you don’t have to raise your hands but who here has ever been guilty of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time
Things like when the waiter says “Thank you” and you respond “I love you too” or when you see that friend you hadn’t seen in a while and you ask her when she’s due but she’s not pregnant
Saying the wrong thing during a sermon is perhaps a preacher’s greatest fear but if you preach long enough it is bound to happen
Not to me of course but to others
We’ve all been in that spot where we said something that we wished we hadn’t or maybe the opposite where we wish that we had the right words to say, words of life and encouragement but we’re left standing there speechless
It’s okay we’ve ALL been there, James said,
James 3:2 NIV
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
The English Standard Version words it, “And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man.”
So again I think that the message this morning is one that is relevant to each of us
So let’s go to our text this morning and see what Solomon has to say about it, open your Bible to verses 3 and 4
(ESV)
Proverbs 13:3–4 NIV
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life;
he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.
This morning I want to concentrate our efforts on 4 principles that Solomon shares here about managing what we say
These principles can be found in 4 separate words in our text; guard, wide, sluggard, diligent
Let’s begin this morning with this word “guard”
The original word used here by Solomon is the word “naw-tsar” and it doesn’t mean to guard in the traditional sense that we might think of, like an officer guarding a prisoner
According to Strong’s Exhaustive concordance the bigger picture of this word is 2-fold
The first element means to “protect”
In other words to keep harm from coming to something
You would guard this trust
Or in the case of our mouth to keep harm from coming OUT of it
Perhaps you have heard the old saying, ‘It is better to remain quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.’
Or the even more popular, ‘If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.’
There is a lot of wisdom in that but unfortunately it doesn’t do justice to what Solomon was trying to convey
Besides some people would never be allowed to speak
For the second element allow me to read the entire definition from Strong’s, “ A verb meaning to guard, to keep, to observe, to preserve, to hide. The word refers to people’s maintaining things entrusted to them, especially to keeping the truths of God in both actions and mind”
I believe that it’s important that we bear in mind both elements of this definition if we are to understand what Solomon was trying to tell us
Because just as important as not saying the wrong thing at the wrong time is being able to say the right thing at the right time and to do that we have to engage our mind as well as our actions
To think BEFORE we speak or in other words to use your mind and your actions
I’ve shared this little acronym before but I think it accurately says the point I’m trying to make here
T- Is it true?
H- Is it helpful?
I- Is it inspiring?
N- Is it necessary?
K- Is it kind?
The opposite of this is the second word that we’re going to consider, wide, or to be a little more precise “opens wide” which is actually just one word in the Hebrew
Have you ever met someone who feels that they have the right to say whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, and to whoever they want?
That’s what Solomon means by going through life with your lips wide open
Being careless with your words
And with the popularity of social media being what it is today there is an epidemic of people going through life with their lips wide open
At the root of this is selfish and rude behaviour is a narcissistic attitude that places my own rights ahead of the rights of anyone else
It seems like I say this almost every week lately but it is absolutely incredible how often God keeps showing me the role that humility plays in whatever topic I happen to be preaching on
Including this one!
It is only a lack of humility that dares say I have a right to speak before considering the impact of what I am about to say on others
‘But,’ you might be thinking, ‘Jesus spoke harsh words when they needed to be spoken and let the chips fall where they may.’
Yes, yes He did but if you go through the gospels again and read all of the red words you will notice a few things;
Jesus never spoke with with malice
Jesus never spoke a careless word but always put great thought into what He was saying
Jesus’ motives were ALWAYS to bring people to a point of repentance
Despite my best intentions I can’t always claim to have the best motives because, as much as I want to be, I am not exactly like Christ
And so Solomon tells us that we need to guard instead of going around with open lips
But what about these next two words from verse 4, it almost looks like they are a separate matter and have nothing to do with verse 3
But humour me for a moment because I believe that verse 4 is strategically placed here by Solomon in order to teach us how to be more like Christ in the way that we talk
The next word that I told you to take note of is the word “sluggard” and here’s the reason
Because no matter how much we want to grow to be more like Christ in the area of our speech, nothing is going to happen unless we work on it!
Immediately after telling us that we need to Guard and work on this area, Solomon tells us that a sluggard, a lazy person, a slouch, a loafer not only wants things to change, Solomon says that he “craves” it
The Hebrew word here is a strong word meaning “to lust after”
This isn’t just a mild interest in being better, or a being slightly motivated in things changing but a strong craving, an aching for things to change
But nothing happens because despite his desire he is not willing to put in the effort
Do you want to be more like Jesus in the way that you talk?
Well okay but it is going to take some work on your behalf to make it happen
God’s not just going to miraculously make this happen for you while you sit back and watch it happen
Check yourself, keep track of how often you say negative or inappropriate things and how often you speak life and peace and joy
You might be surprised at the results
Then actively work on looking for opportunities to say positive things
It won’t happen over night but you didn’t get the way that you are over night so don’t expect to change over night
Then there’s one more thing because you can’t draw water out of a dry well and so you have to fill up your well with positivity
Philippians 4:8 NIV
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8
Get away from from the soap operas and many forms of “entertainment” that does nothing but sour the water of your well and let the spring of living water replenish you
Jesus told us that “It is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks” ()
That means if you want to speak words of life and encouragement etc. your heart is going to need to be full of those things and the only way that can happen is if you feed it those things
And when you do Solomon promises that the “diligent will be fully satisfied”
That means that when we put forth the necessary effort, that when we go to the correct source of living water, He will supply us with everything that we need to bring forth the changes that we want to see
John 7:37 NIV
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
John 7:37-38
John 7:37–38 NIV
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
With Christ as your source you won’t just trickle words of hope and life, your will be a river flowing with a supply that cannot and will not run dry
Today’s text is very applicable to each and everyone of us because no matter where we are as far as our speech, we all have room for improvement
Or as James put it, “Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect” and none of us is perfect
The good news of this is that if we are willing to put in the necessary effort, if we will turn away from those things that fill us with negativity and focus instead on our source of refreshment
If we will put the time in to focusing on whatever is good and true and good and noble and pure and holy
If we will T.H.I.N.K. before we speak than we can and will reap a harvest of great fruitfulness in speech
Let’s pray
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