January 3, 2020 • Life for Leaders
I said, “I will watch my ways
and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
while in the presence of the wicked.”
Psalm 39:1 (NIV)
Gracious God, sometimes it’s hard to keep my tongue from sin, especially at work. I want to speak words of wisdom and peace. I want to affirm and encourage. I want to speak the truth in love. Many times I do this, by your grace. And then there are other times.
For example, there are times when someone is angry with me. I know that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). I want to be a person of gentle answers. But sometimes my heart starts racing and my mouth starts speaking and before I know it harsh words are coming from my mouth. They hurt people. They injure relationships. They impede progress. Of these words I am not proud.
There are other times when I am perfectly calm and cool, yet I speak in ways that are wrong. For example, when people are gossiping and I join in, enjoying the feeling of superiority and the privilege of an insider. I can say things about people that should not be said, even if they’re true. Now, I know that “a perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). I know that speaking about others behind their back can be painful and divisive. But sometimes it feels so good to do it. Ugh.
Then there are the times when I bend the truth. Oh, I don’t want to say that I lie. That sounds too harsh, too accurate. But I can speak in ways that are hardly truth-full. Why? Sometimes to promote myself, but more often to protect myself. It’s so much easier to say I was caught in traffic than to say I just wasn’t being responsible about the time. It’s so easy to tell my superior his idea is great than to be honest about my hesitations.
Gracious God, I confess that too often I do not keep my tongue from sin. I ask for your forgiveness. And I ask for your help. May the words of my mouth – all the words of my mouth, my words at work – and the meditations of my heart “be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day:
Your words matter. Speak the truth in love.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
The tongue is the last member to bring under control. Not that it can’t be.
We just need to focus on our love and everything else will be up to God. That’s where our focus needs to be to be fruitful. Love covers a multitude of sins.
That’s something I’m sure we all need to be aware of. It’s just so easy to be lacking in this quality. Praise God there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk according to the Spirit.
Thanks, DiAnne, for you comment. Yes, thanks be to God for his patience and forgiveness.