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

The Trappist monk was allowed to say only two words every three years. After the first three years, he said to the Brother Superior, “Bad bed.” Three years later he came back to say, “Bad food.” After three more years of silence the monk said, “No TV.” Another three years passed. This time the monk appeared with robes and sandals in hand and announced, “I quit.” The Brother Superior answered, “It’s no wonder. You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here!”

            That story cracks me up. Sometimes because I don’t say half the stuff I want to say, and I’m proud of myself. But if the small amount of words I say are negative, it still creates a negative atmosphere. Lou Holz wrote, “I have inherited five losing football teams during my coaching career, and the one thing these squads had in common was that they were mostly composed of athletes who moaned about everything. To excel they had to be retrained to think differently.”

            I have had to be retrained to think differently. The Bible version of that thought is, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” For a long time I thought that I couldn’t control my moods and sometimes my words. But in the Bible God says, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, or admirable, think on these things.” He doesn’t say, “Try to think on these things.” Would He tell us to do something that is impossible to do?

      It was a big step for me to learn that I was in control of my mind, and that I could choose what I was going to let my mind dwell on. Then I had to decide to pay attention—to do battle with the thoughts that didn’t line up with Scripture. I did it by prayer, by saying Bible verses instead, by having cards around me with the thoughts I did want to think and looking at them and saying them out loud when negativity and lies and agreements swirled around in my brain. Try it. Don’t let things in your life fall apart—“come to ruin.” Pray this verse and begin to set up guards.

*Do you speak rashly? What is “coming to ruin” because of your lack of discipline?

*What is the one thing you can do to begin to take charge of your mind?

God, I know why King David prayed, “Set a watch before my lips.” God, I need You to help me guard the things that come out of my mouth. Right now speak to me about any time recently that I spoke rashly.  (Stop right now and listen for God’s response.) Reveal to me, Lord, what I am ruining by not guarding my lips. I need Your help. I want my life to be shielded from ruin, so help me God.  Give me Holy Spirit power to use only words that give life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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