“Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.”
After saying in the previous verse, “Keep thy heart,” this Scripture admonishes us to control our words. One of the things that clearly reveals something about the condition of our spiritual lives is our words. Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). Our words are influenced by our hearts. If we are going to take seriously the command to keep our mouth, we will have to take seriously the instruction to keep our heart.
Our words will never be appropriate if our hearts are not pure. Specifically, we are commanded to put away from us “a froward mouth, and perverse lips.” The words froward and perverse have similar meanings, defined with such words as “turning aside from the right, unyielding, disobedient, obstinate, and stubborn.” We are to cautiously guard our words and control our tongues. The Word of God commands us to take charge of our conversations. Although a spiritual novice might think this would easily be accomplished, it is not always so. James teaches us that an indication of spiritual maturity is being able to conquer the tongue. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).
We need God’s help to control our words. Great damage can be done with our tongues. We are to “Put away” and “put far from thee” words that are ungodly and inappropriate. We are to be willing to carefully judge our words, recognizing and removing the language that displeases the Lord. Our words should be truthful, sincere, honest, and edifying. We should not use language that is condemning, critical, malicious, prideful, or slanderous. Our words should be used to help and bless others, and glorify the Lord. When we are aware that our words are damaging, we should repent and ask God to help us speak with wholesome words. At times, we may have to go to others and confess that we have sinned in the way we have spoken, and ask for their forgiveness.
David’s prayer, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight” (Psalm 19:14a), should be our prayer as well. May God help us to speak words that are pleasing to Him, rather than speaking words that are used as tools of the devil.