Tag Archives: Proverbs 12:18

Oh Be Careful Little Mouths What You Say

When I was a kid, we used to sing this song reminding us to be careful with our eyes, ears, mouths, and hands.
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.
For the Father above is looking down with love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.

Of course, you’d substitute eyes/see with ears/hear, mouths/say, and hands/do.  I always wondered how one could be careful what they hear.  I can’t control what other people say to me or around me.  That being said, I want to focus this morning on the mouth.

While God’s presence is a good enough reason to be careful with what comes out of our mouths, we need to remember that generally speaking–when we speak–we are speaking to others, about others, or around others.  There are real people hearing our words.  Like that child singing the song, they cannot control what comes out of our mouths or what they are forced to hear.  However, we can control what comes out, and we must.

I was convicted earlier this morning by a verse I read out of Proverbs 12:

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing, (v. 18, ESV).

Rash words wound.  Thoughtless, quickly spoken words are like sword thrusts.  They maim, they scar, and they kill.  Whether intentional or not, it happens.

My favorite scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is when Tybalt and Mercutio are having a battle of whits and swords.  Romeo seeks to break up the two when Tybalt reaches under him and stabs Mercutio.  It was manslaughter, not murder.  It was unintentional, but the wound occurred nonetheless.  Mercutio, like “a manly man,” tried to play it off.

Benvolio asked if he was hurt, and he replied that he was, but it was just a scratch.  Yet then he called his page to go get a doctor.  Romeo, befuddled, tells him it can’t be that bad.  And here are my favorite lines in the entire play:

No, ’tis not so deep as a well
nor so wide as a church-door,
but ’tis enough, ’twill serve.
Ask for me tomorrow,
and you shall find me a grave man.
I am peppered, I warrant, for this world.
A plague o’ both your houses!

Did it cut as deep as well? No.  Did it slice him the width of a church-door? Not even close.  But the wound was deep enough to kill.  If one were to seek him out tomorrow, he’d find him in his grave. His life is over. May the Montagues and the Capulets be plagued for their stupid feud.

Tybalt was not intending for his sword thrust to kill, but that is what happened.  We often do not intend to wound with our words, but they cut to the quick, to the bone, to the very soul of a person. Oh be careful little mouths what you say.

As I said, I was convicted by this Proverb earlier this morning and had to immediately send a text out to some gentlemen to whom I believe I spoke rashly.  I had to apologize and ask for forgiveness.  Is there anyone in your life that you can think of to whom you spoke rashly and wounded?  Is it time to do the wise thing, and use the tongue to bring healing instead of wounding?