“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: [but] he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
What can be said about this proverb that is not painfully obvious? Would it help if we read it in another translation?
The Holman (HCSB) puts it, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin.” The ESV says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” I’d say the message is the same, wouldn’t you?
A big mouth will get you into serious trouble. It may even cost your life.
There used to be a saying back in the 1940’s: “Loose lips sink ships.” During World War II enemy spies were known to make friends with the families of soldiers and sailors. Knowing the tendency for proud parents, spouses, and children to talk about letters from the front, the enemy would listen and take note.
Many times, without even knowing it, something was said that gave details of secret missions. Lives were lost when people said more than they should.
Sometimes people get into serious trouble because they can’t keep secrets. Some people say things they don’t mean to say. Some people open their big mouths without thinking, then destruction comes.
Post a Guard
If you have a tendency to say things you shouldn’t, you may need to erect some barriers, or even post a security guard in front of your mouth. You can never be too safe when you know you possess something so dangerous.
Look back at the proverb; it says, “he that keepeth..” That means “to put a guard around.” A wise man will have in place a guard – a mental guard – that checks his words before they cross his lips.
Guard: Good evening, Mr. Word. Going out for a stroll, tonight?
Mr. Word: Actually, Mr. Security Guard, it’s none of your business where I am going.
Guard: Oh, most certainly it is! If you don’t provide a good reason for leaving the premises, I must ask you to return.
Mr. Word: All right, then. I was about to tell my wife that dress looks better on the hanger than her.
Guard: (Speaking into a radio microphone) I need backup, immediately Get back sir! Get away from the gate! You are a danger to all of us!
A Real Danger
If you don’t think your words are worth guarding, consider what James said about the tongue…
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” – James 1:26 NLT
Now, consider the words of the Apostle Peter…
“For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.'” – 1 Peter 3:10-11 NLT
Be careful what you say.