a tube of blue toothpaste

>> June 23, 2010

I remember it clearly, even though it was probably 25 years ago. The pastor held a tube of toothpaste up in the air, and then proceeded to squeeze out its contents (he did hold a plate underneath to catch it falling). The blue paste squirted and spun like a snake coiling and striking the air. Once the tube was empty, he asked the children if anyone could put the paste back into the tube. Of course they couldn’t, despite several trying, and making a royal mess. The pastor then told the children how this toothpaste was just like words. Once they are out of our mouths, we cannot put them back, no matter how hard we try, and how much of a mess we make. This was such a vivid image of the effect our words can have.

I was reminded of that image this morning during my Bible reading. Psalm 141:3 says, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord: keep watch over the door of my lips.” David wrote these words as a prayer to God, asking for His power to control what he says. David was a king, a shepherd, a friend, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a warrior. All of these titles involved relationships with people (well, not the shepherd), and we often use words to communicate within our relationships. The words we say can have either a positive or negative effect on people. Praise the Lord for all the words we say to people that have positive effects! But those that we say that are negative, and/or have a negative effect, will have lasting impacts.

Sisters in ministry, we need to be all the more careful with our words! Despite the fact that we are just normal—aka sinful--human beings, who are tempted in all ways, our words should be even more measured and guarded. Our church members put more weight upon our words, whether good or bad. Criticism, gossip, and harsh words are like the poison of vipers on our lips (Rom. 3:13). Whoever made up the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” had no idea what they were talking about. Our words can hurt far more than any stone throwing. If there is any chance that what you say can be misunderstood, it probably will be. And don’t ever think that the words you say “in confidence” won’t make it back to the person they will hurt the most. Call it an occupational hazard, but the secrets of or told by a pastor’s wife will rarely remain a secret for long.

Let us also not forget the words we say to or in the hearing of our husband and children.

We should pray daily and continuously, just as David did, for God to guard our mouths and lips. We want our words to be uplifting and encouraging. We want our words to point to THE Word.

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Rachel June 23, 2010 at 1:56 PM  

Love that illustration!! Such a great and important reminder too!! Thanks!

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