Your Tongue Needs a Guard and You Will Find It Here

Man has not changed in spite of great advancements in science and technology.

Fashions and food habits might have changed; but the way he acts and reacts in interpersonal relations have remained the same.

It is against this backdrop that the following words of wisdom related to communication mostly penned by Solomon, the wise king, some 3000 years ago become significant. If heeded, it can enable you to be a wise communicator. The quotes are taken from the Book of Proverbs from the New International Version (1984 edition) of the Bible. A few quotes other than from Proverbs have also been sprinkled in between.

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh words stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1).

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
and a gentle tongue can break a bone (Proverbs 25:15).

A word aptly spoken
is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11).

A man finds joy in giving an apt reply–
and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23).

A gossip separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28b).

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to a man’s inmost parts (Proverbs 18:8).

A gossip betrays a confidence;
so avoid a man who talks too much (Proverbs 20:19).

Without wood a fire goes out;
without gossip a quarrel dies down (Proverbs 26:20).

A Time to Be Silent
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
… a time to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b).

He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7b).

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate
asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no
reply, not even to a single charge–to the great amazement of the governor (Matthew 27:12–

Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out (Proverbs 17:14).

For as churning the milk produces butter,
and as twisting the nose produces blood,
so stirring up anger produces strife (Proverbs 30:33).

If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great errors to rest (Ecclesiastes 10:4).

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1).

One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off (1 Kings 20:11).

The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell — (James 3:5, 6).

Unguarded Talk
When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he holds his tongue is wise (Proverbs 10:19).

He who guards his lips guards his life,
but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin (Proverbs 13:3).

Do you see a man who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 29:20).

Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone? (Ecclesiastes 6:11).

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless
word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be
condemned — Jesus (Matthew 12:36, 37).

He who answers before listening–
that is his folly and his shame (Proverbs 18:13).
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

Like one who seizes a dog by the ears
is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own (Proverbs 26:17).

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he
deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26).

And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let
your “Yes” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No”; anything beyond this comes from the evil one
— Jesus (Matthew 5:36, 37).

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man
brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his
mouth speaks — Jesus (Luke 6:45).

Whoever spreads slander is a fool (Proverbs 10:18b).

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding
but delights in airing his own opinions (Proverbs 18:2).

A fool is consumed by his own lips.
At the beginning his words are folly;
at the end they are wicked madness–
and the fool multiplies words (Ecclesiastes 10:12a–14).

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” — David (Psalm 53:1a).

The pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel (Proverbs 27:9b).

Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).

The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).

From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things
as surely as the work of his hands rewards him (Proverbs 12:14).

“It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the
mouth of God’ ” — Jesus (Matthew 4:4).

Stage Fright
Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since
you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives
him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord. Now go; I will help you speak and will teach
you what to say” (Exodus 4:10–12).

[This piece of conversation dated around 1370 B.C. is possibly the first recorded instance of
stage fright in history. In fact, Moses went on to become a great leader and speaker; and
Houston Peterson begins his much acclaimed edition, “A Treasury of The World’s Great
Speeches” with the Speech of Moses proclaiming The Ten Commandments as recorded in the
Book of Deuteronomy.]

An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up (Proverbs 12:25).

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,
but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).

Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land (Proverbs 25:25).

An honest answer
is like a kiss on the lips (Proverbs 24:26).

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love (Proverbs 27:5).

He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious
will have the king for his friend (Proverbs 22:11).

If a man curses his father or mother,
his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness (Proverbs 20:20).

A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
and a flattering mouth works ruin (Proverbs 26:28).

A malicious man disguises himself with his lips,
but in his heart he harbours deceit.
Though his speech is charming, do not believe him (Proverbs 26:24-25a).

Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse does not come to rest (Proverbs 26:2).

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
but the speech of the upright rescues them (Proverbs 12:6).

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8, 9).

Do Not
Do not pay attention to every word people say,
or you may hear your servant cursing you–
for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed others (Ecclesiastes 7:21, 22).

Do not revile the king even in your thoughts,
or curse the rich in your bedroom,
because a bird of the air may carry your words,
and a bird on the wing may report what you say (Ecclesiastes 10:20).

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint (Proverbs 17:27a).

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance,
but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel (Proverbs 20:15).

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I
became a man, I put childish ways behind me — St. Paul (1 Corinthians 13:11).

“Speak the truth in love” (adapted from Ephesians 4:15).

Editor’s Choice:“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not
proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of
wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always
trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails – St. Paul (1 Corinthians 13:4–8a).

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. Nor should there be
obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, but rather thanksgiving – St. Paul (Ephesians 4:29;

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6a).

Do not accuse a man for no reason-
when he has done you no harm (Proverbs 3:30).

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue (Proverbs 31:10, 26).

A quarrelsome wife is like
a constant dripping on a rainy day;
restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand (Proverbs 27:15, 16).

The first to present his case seems right,
till another comes forward and questions him (Proverbs 18:17).

Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me” (Job 38:1, 2).

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?”
For it is not wise to ask such questions (Ecclesiastes 7:10).

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

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