Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
The word keep in verse 13 means to guard. So the meaning of verse 13 is to guard your tongue from evil. To guard something means to actively keep watch. It takes effort and work to guard something. There must also be a sense of urgency. We guard our money to the last breath. We guard our valuables with safes and safety deposit boxes. Why is it so easy for us to allow the proverbial “slip of the tongue?” We say what we want, in the tone we want, and in the timing we want, not considering the evil that could be propagated.
Verse 14 gives a direct command to depart from it, and to do good. We laugh when we hear someone say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” What is important now is how witty and sarcastic we can be. How well we can put someone in their place if they need it or not. We all struggle with this simple but difficult command of guarding the tongue. But I do believe that if we could begin to be more aware of the evil that is spread, the problems that are caused, the issues that could be avoided, with the words that we choose to use, we could be more pleasing to God and experience more peace in our lives.
I want you to understand that I am not writing this to seem like I have this under control in my own life. Through personal Bible study and conviction I have certainly realized that in fact, at times, it is a problem I too struggle with. I realize that I must do better at guarding my tongue. All too often I can be quick to use sarcasm instead of compassion. If you are honest with yourself I think you would come to that conclusion as well. Will you make the decision with me to begin a conscious effort to battle and guard your tongue from evil?
May God bless,