The bible has a lot to say about our words. Most of it is sobering. If only we could remember what we read before we speak…We’ve all been guilty of saying something at the wrong time, or saying the wrong thing when something different was needed. This is part of life. But if we want to do better at watching our words it is important to remember that there are times when what we speak, or how we speak it, can have lasting consequences.
Speaking the wrong thing, giving out too much information when it should have been kept close, may have cost one Revolutionary War hero his life when he was just 22 years old. Nathan Hale found himself before the great general, George Washington, in September of 1776. He wanted an assignment and he had a plan. He would be a spy for the side of freedom, gathering information for General Washington while posing as a school master on Long Island. His energy bordered on pleading, convincing Washington that it could be done. Off went Nathan Hale to help secure a victory for the side of freedom.
No one knows for sure if it was a slip of the tongue when young Hale was enjoying a drink in a local tavern, or a note of familiarity in his voice as he spoke with an untrustworthy local, or an innocent mispronunciation of a name he should have known if he was from that area, but just a week into his service he was arrested and hanged for being a spy. His words, however innocent, are believed to have sealed his fate. He did get the last word according to many historical accounts, when he stated at the gallows his regret at having only one life to give for his country.
God reminds us throughout His Word that we should consider all that we find on our tongue before we utter it. There are times that it may even save your life:
The one who guards his mouth [thinking before he speaks] protects his life;
The one who opens his lips wide [and chatters without thinking] comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3
Perfecting our speech will never happen in this life, the bible says that the tongue is like a tiny flame that no person can tame. But with God’s help, we can choose our words more wisely.