Solomon declared, "The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin" (Proverbs 13:3, NASV). Undoubtedly, there is great power in the tongue to do good or evil. A word fitly spoken can be a great blessing (Proverbs 25:11), but an inappropriate word can do great harm.
God is concerned about proper speech emanating from man's mouth. Two of the Ten Commandments refer to sins of the tongue (Exodus 20:7, 16). Three of the seven things God hates relate to the tongue (Proverbs 6:16-19). The Scriptures say, "...he who restrains his lips is wise" (Proverbs 10:19). Words reveal the level of one's spirituality; they expose the condition of one's heart. Take note of some of the sins of the tongue that are very common today.
Profanity. Vulgarities and profanity are widespread today. They can be heard at most public gatherings. On television, movies, music, and the printed page words of profanity are so glibly and thoughtlessly used. Our society has become so desensitized to them that they don't offend us as they once did. Yet, under the Law of Moses one's speech was to be so guarded that one guilty of profanity was to be stoned (Leviticus 24:14-16). Rather than being a mark of toughness and maturity, profanity is nothing more than an inferior mind attempting to express itself.
Gossiping. Several years ago there appeared in the columns of a small town newspaper an instance of slander of astounding proportions. This slander was leveled against a preacher. It was said that his wife was attending a certain meeting, that he went there in a rage, that he by violence dragged her from the hall, and that he by force compelled her to go home with him. He allowed the tale to circulate for a few days then riddled it in the following manner. "In the first place, I never attempted to influence my wife in her views nor her choice of a meeting. In the second place, my wife did not attend the meeting in question. In the third place, I did not go to the meeting. In the fourth place, I never had a wife." Three questions should precede our communication: Is it true? Is it needful? Is it kind? Some things that may be true are neither needful or kind and would be better left unsaid. It is "...a perverse man that spreads strife" (Proverbs 16:28).
Criticism. If given in the proper spirit, criticism can be helpful; however, some feel that if they offer criticism in the form of "advice" they are free to say just about anything they please. There is an old statement that says, "If you punch a dog in the nose long enough he will stop wagging his tail." The value of criticism is dependent upon its recipient. It can demoralize a person or it can serve as a catalyst for greater achievement. It is wise to weigh the criticism and disregard the untrue and grow from the true.
In view of the judgment, our prayer should be, "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips" (Psalm 141:3)..."Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).