Months ago my cousin and I found ourselves in Lifeway Christian bookstore, browsing the shelves for a new study book for our weekly meeting. We ended up with a stack of options each, but only one book was found in both of our arms: Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman.
In Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All, the author addresses the issue of the mouth. I personally was drawn to hearing this Proverbs 31 Ministries teacher’s take on an issue that has gotten in my way many times. What I took away from the book was much more than the fluff I had anticipated. Rather than the “be careful that the words that come out of your mouth match your sweet disposition” jumble that I figured we would read, she shared practical advice rooted in biblical teaching. I found myself highlighting sections, marking corresponding notes in my Bible, and then adding lengthy excerpts or thoughts into my journal. What did I learn?
What I Learned
Our “mouth problem” is really a heart and mind issue. There are several things that impact the words. (Ch. 1)
Grace from God = unmerited favor. Freely given, not costing us anything. When we grant favor with our words or lavish love on someone through speech, we mirror Christ and His free gift of grace. (Ch. 2)
We often get ourselves in trouble when we talk too much and focus on our opinions. We are too busy in what we are thinking that we can’t hear God and His will. (Ch. 3)
Daniel displayed the importance of prayer before all other actions. His commitment to prayer saved him from destruction and made God known. (Ch. 4)
We must be tough skinned and tender hearted. As Christians, we should soften our hearts with love for others, and toughen out skin against their barbs. THEN we are better equipped to show the compassionate love of Jesus to a watching world. (Ch. 5)
If we are doing our part to share God’s love and spread His kingdom, then we are likely to fall victim to gossip. The best defense against negative and potentially hurtful words is to know whose words will provide protection instead. Exodus 14:14 says The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. The best way to be still is to be in the Bible with God. (Ch. 7)
Realize the world is watching and learning from you. As we do our part to fix our focus on God and place ourselves in His care, we affirm that his power and protection are real. (Ch. 7)
Keep God at the center of your plans. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Ch. 8)
Die to self, to flesh, to “rights” too often made into wrongs. Even in everyday details this may be necessary. In order for this to happen, we must deeply draw from the power of the Holy Spirit. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (Ch. 9)
Expressing gratitude brings contentment, and contentment brings peace – peace in knowing God firs together all the pieces of our lives to make us who we are today. Intentional living can ground our crazy lives in the world. (Ch. 10)
Even Jesus found it necessary to get away for awhile. He also encouraged His disciples to get away to a quiet place. Remove the bad and distraction from your life to refocus on God. (Ch. 11)
The reoccurring theme that God seemed to be showing me throughout this fun read was that we are His hands and feet on this earth. Ephesians 4:30-32 gives us a reminder of our charge as Christians. We model to the watching world the forgiveness and grace of God. We are His image to those that do not know Him personally-what type of God are we portraying?