Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let the Words of My Mouth

The words from Psalm 19 were used every Sunday prior to Dad's sermon as a response. He would begin with, "Let the words of my mouth," the congregation would respond with, "and the meditations of my heart," then both would say, "be acceptable in thy sight oh Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

By the time I was in high school, I was bored with that response, but it wasn't long after that I learned to love those verses. I think I moved past just saying them to really hearing them in my heart.

James tells us that "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men ... out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers this should not be." (James 3:9-10)

The psalmist in Psalm 45:2 praises the bridegroom (more than likely Solomon) for the grace with which he speaks.

I was describing to a friend the other day how I made a choice when I entered junior high to use foul language. I had just moved into a new community and no one at that school knew me. I had come from an elementary school in a very small town where the girls had ostracized me because Dad was the pastor. I was the goody-two-shoes and therefore not welcome in their clique. Well, by the time I got to Sigourney, I knew that I wanted to rid myself of that persona and create one that might fit in with the kids in my class. Little did I know that I would be stuck with that choice for the rest of my life and that it would become a horrendous habit that seems impossible to break.

But, what other types of things remove grace from our lips?

Carol moved into her new house yesterday. It's a cute little house in a wonderful neighborhood. A couple from across the street came over to welcome her and brought a cake. On top of the cake was a card with their name, address and phone number so that she could call on them for anything she might need. An act filled with grace, yet their words belied their intentions as they began giving Carol the gossip on the people in the neighborhood. Grace?

Snarky comments spoken in moments of joy and peace made simply to draw attention away from good things occurring, busy-body comments that make others uncomfortable, bossy attitudes, negative responses, arrogant lectures, all designed to reduce the listener to something manageable by the speaker.

It breaks my heart to hear someone say in response to a positive comment I've given them, "I've never had anyone say that to me before." Wow. Really? Why not? It also breaks my heart when I speak badly of someone to another person and realize that I am once again caught up in a pattern of hurtful behavior.

James wonders how praising and cursing can come from the same mouth? How can they come from the same heart? The psalmist lifts up the king who speaks with grace. We pray that our words are acceptable to the Lord.

David says in Psalm 39:1, "I said, 'I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth..."

I am pretty sure that he didn't succeed in muzzling his tongue all the time. I am absolutely certain that I will fail at that over and over. I think the only way for me to ever allow grace to be the dominant feature of my words is to pray that prayer I learned a long time ago.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)

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