Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his soul, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
“Loose lips sink ships.” This phrase originated during World War II. It was a slogan to guard against the possibility that unguarded talk may give useful information to the enemy. There was a fear of enemy spies amongst the workers in the war effort. In order to avoid inadvertently giving out vital information, the
office of war information came up with the slogan, “Loose lips might sink ships.” Another one was, “Careless talk costs lives.” U.S.
The damage from careless talk can cut deep. This Proverb lays out how severe careless talk can be. Notice how guarded lips are tied to the soul. Also notice that rash talk will lead to ruin. How many times in today’s mass media society have we seen one phrase, one sound byte, one line taken out of context and that person is crucified in the news. A public official who has one poor choice of words can have his character destroyed.
James spends several verses on the tongue. He talks about how powerful such a small body part can be. The tongue is hard to tame and is likened to the starting of fires. In fact, he mentions the fires of hell. Wow!
Beyond rash speaking leading to ruin is the idea of protecting the soul. Many can bounce back from ruin caused by careless talk. But, if careless talk becomes excessive, it can damage the soul. For me, that is the real concern and fear. If I do not guard my talk, I am not guarding my soul. Does this mean we do not speak truth in situations where truth can be hurtful? I don’t think so. However, notice that it says, “Guard”, not “shut up”. And the opposite of that in this verse is to speak rashly or without thinking. This tells me to monitor what I am saying. I need to consider what my words will do, how they will be received, to think before I speak.
Furthermore, I cannot look at this passage without thinking about, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b). This would be a topic for another article but I will say this here: To guard my lips, I must first guard my heart. Heart and soul are tied very closely together. Unguarded speech tells me where my heart is and that I may need to do heart work. I must work on my heart in order to better guard my speech, ultimately guarding my soul.
“He who guards his lips guards his soul, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
1. Can you describe a situation where your words got you into trouble?
2. Can you describe a situation where someone else’s words brought them ruin?
3. What did you learn form that?
4. What heart work do you need to do in order to better guard your speech?
5. Ask Jesus to come along side you this week and point out to you where you need heart work and what to guard in your speech.
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