Proverbs 15:1-4 (NIV)

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.  3 The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.  4 The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

DEVOTION – Ruth Nussbaumer (Alsace, France)

Every morning I write down a verse of scripture to remember as a motto for the day.  One day my exhortation had to do with not slandering.  I know that spreading rumors with the intention of harming someone is wrong.

But it occurred to me later that there is a form of speech as insidious as untruth: speaking of another’s faults to a third person – even though the faults may be real.  We are prone to tell others about the  wrong someone has done or about a particular weakness someone struggles with.  Even though no lies are told, such talk can cause prejudice or suspicion.  Relationships can be negatively affected.

That day as I was reflecting on my motto from scripture, a man called to tell me a story that I was confident was not true.  My first reaction was: I will tell my colleagues about this!  But doing so would have harmed the reputation of the person he was calling me about.  Then I remembered the verse that I had read that morning and by the grace of God, I said nothing.  Now I make it a practice to ask the Lord to watch over the door of my lips. (See Ps. 141:3.)

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God calls us to speak words that heal, not hurt.

PRAYER:  Dear God, give us the strength to speak only good about others.  We pray with the psalmist, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord” (Ps. 141:3).  Amen.

PRAYER FOCUS: Someone I Have Hurt With My Words