This verse from the book of Proverbs reflects God’s gift of “Free Will” to mankind. Our journey with Jesus starts with a simple confession that Jesus Christ died for our transgressions as our substitute. Paul writes to the Romans that this opportunity lies very near to each individual in their heart and mouth (Rom 10:8). Because tongue speaks out the things that are hidden in the heart. Judas valued the perfume in terms of money as greed for money filled his heart and he received its fruit later. Thomas’ heart was filled with a fear of persecution and received its fruit in an Asian country (India). Thomas therefore, also called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him. (John 11:16). Thomas in frustration confessed his faith in haste. While facing challenging situations, we too speak like Thomas in haste without realising the consequences.
Know this, my dearly loved brethren: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. (James 1:19)
In one of the parables, Jesus illustrates the fate of a man who spoke ruthlessly in order to save his skin. “Jesus sayeth to him: Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up what I laid not down, and reaping that which I did not sow” (Luke 19:22). Instead of admitting our shortcomings we always have a tendency to justify it. Justifying our wrong doing brings forth trouble. There are a sect of people who start spreading rumours without knowing the cause behind a situation, as if they know everything and indulge themselves in an area which is not at all their jurisdiction. In the end they land in endless trouble. Here, we see one person framing false stories regarding Saul’s death. (I Sam 31:3-5) explains very clearly that Saul killed himself not wanting a death through an uncircumcised. But a lad framed his own story and invited his death. “And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite. And he said unto me, Stand, I pray thee, beside me, and slay me; for anguish hath taken hold of me, because my life is yet whole in me. So I stood beside him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live, after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.” (2 Samuel 1:8-10) Jesus teaches us to be precise and honest in our words. “But let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37).
“Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 10:19).
In Gen 15:2 Abram confessed his disbelief saying that his servant’s children are going to be his heir as he did not have any children. In the next chapter itself we find Sarah giving her servant Hagger to Abram and she gave birth to a son to be the heir of Abram. “There are many words that have much vanity in disputing.” – (Ecclesiastes 6:11). Abram and Sarah with their words, were unable to own God’s promise that he is the father of many children. God graciously changed his name to Abraham which meant father of many children. Whenever they took the name Abraham they confessed their faith and inherited God’s promise and in turn Abraham received God’s blessing and learnt how to tame his tongue. While Abraham was climbing up Mount Moriah, Isaac asked Abraham about the goat for sacrifice not knowing the fact that he himself was the one to be offered. Abraham answered Issac that God will take care of it and it happened so.
In the same manner, Joseph after hearing from Gabriel that he had to marry a woman already conceived, he was quick to listen and slow to speak (Mathew 1: 20). This listed him in a righteous category and his wisdom helped Mary to pass through the phase of stigma. James compares the tongue to a small rudder of a huge ship (James 3:4-5) “Look at the ships, though they are so large and driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder, wherever the will of the pilot directs. So, also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.”
If our heart is filled with the word of God, our tongue will lead us to a victorious life.