Proverbs 12:13

The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips: but the just shall come out of trouble.

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Your mouth can get you into a lot of trouble, or it can get you out of trouble. A fool seldom thinks before he speaks, or he thinks with a cruel or profane heart, so his words trap him in difficulties and bring punishment (Pr 18:6-7). But a righteous man, choosing good speech by the rules of wisdom, saves himself from the wrath of God and man.

How many times have you said to yourself, “Why did I say that?” The beauty and power of discretion and wisdom are to consider your words before they come out, so you do not have to regret them. Solomon used many proverbs to show that wise speech begins in the heart (Pr 16:23; 22:11), cuts the number of words in half (Pr 17:27-28), rules your spirit (Pr 14:29; 16:32), speaks slowly (Pr 29:11,20), and speaks carefully (Pr 10:31-32; 15:28).

Consider suretiship, or cosigning loans. Hasty agreements to guarantee the financial performance of others are dangerous (Pr 22:26-27). They should be avoided with great care, and you should spare no pain getting out of ones you are in (Pr 6:1-5). How do they originate? You hear a plea for cosigning, and your lips make the foolish commitment!

Consider vows. God warns against and condemns foolish vows (Eccl 5:1-7). Profane men without due caution are quick to say most anything in church or prayer, thus binding their souls before God. They err greatly to think that words are no big problem and they can get out of oaths easily (Pr 20:25). Wise men speak with fear and trembling before God.

Consider conflict. A wicked man facing the wrath of an adversary must respond in kind, because his heart is proud and stubborn. He cannot and will not learn the lesson that a soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir it up further (Pr 15:1; 17:14). He will try to win the controversy, for he has no sincere ability or desire for peace (Pr 11:12).

Consider private cursing. A fool has no discretion. His heart must say its most depraved thoughts. He curses the king or the rich in his home, and he cannot understand how his words get to the offended party (Eccl 10:20). A wise man learns to think good thoughts and not let evil words escape his lips in any setting (Pr 16:23; Matt 5:21-22).

Paul warned about three kinds of speech that are common and popular today – filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting (Eph 5:3-8). But such speech is not convenient, meaning it is inappropriate and causes trouble, because it is not proper or fitting. What is the cure? Replace such speech with giving thanks instead. What a difference that would make!

Your success or failure depends on your ability to rule your tongue. If you do not learn to control and guard your speech, you will get yourself into much pain and trouble. It is so much better to think pure thoughts, reduce your words, slow your speech, and speak very carefully with an eye to the consequences (Jas 3:2). A wise man works diligently to form godly words for speaking only after deliberation and examination (Ps 19:14; 141:1-4).

Judgment Day will include every idle word you have spoken (Matt 12:36-37). For this reason Paul wrote that your speech should be gracious (Col 4:6; Eph 4:29). Such a choice will save you from trouble and bring praise and promotion from others (Pr 22:11; 24:26). You will grow in favor with both God and men by one of the easiest ways possible.