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Lost Your Filter?

January 22nd, 2009

“He who guards his lips guards his life.” Proverbs 13:3 NIV

“Sometimes it is not what you say, but when and how you say it.”

My thoughts today ask if you’ve, “lost your filter?”

Have you ever felt like giving someone “a piece of your mind”? I would advise you to be careful; do that too often and soon you might not have much left for yourself! Life presents you ample and tempting opportunities to let others know what you think, and usually for all the wrong reasons and at the worst times. My sweet and soft spoken grandmother would say, “Keep your words sweet, in case you have to eat them.”

A friend was expressing their unhappy opinion, and would not seem to conclude their critique of something that displeased them. Quietly, her son leaned over to me and said, “You have to forgive Mom; she has lost her filter.” I have recently thought about that unique observation and wondered if I had lost my filter more often than I realized. I guess we all have on occasion. For some it’s an unfortunate hobby; for others it seems a lifelong occupation – definitely not the God-given ministry many assume theirs to be. You may feel that you have a right to your opinion, and you do. It is not wise, however, to voice all your opinions to anyone and everyone within shouting distance.

You will usually be careful to do so only when you think it won’t cost you too much – like painful conflict, awkward rebuttal, public embarrassment, or outright rebuke. It’s easy to guard your lips when you know they will bring you unwanted discomfort, yet not worry enough about unguarded lips causing others unwarranted discomfort. Trust me, there is always some cost involved; you lose some measure of people’s regard or their desire to be around you. What you may gain is a poor reputation and the loneliness of people’s avoidance of your company.

Do you talk more than you should? It will cost you friendships. My Dad considered that maybe God gave you one mouth and two ears to remind you to listen more and talk less. I don’t know if I could support that Biblically, but it is good, practical advice. The Bible gives good counsel on this matter. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak . .” James 1:19 NIV.

Are you often negative or critical in what you say? There is plenty of that in the world, without you or I adding to it. A friend of mine wrote a book many years ago that he titled, “Living Positively in a Negative World.” That’s not always easy, is it? Choose that what you say is positive and lifts people’s spirit, rather than makes hearts heavier than needs to be.

Paul’s advice is, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” Ephesians 4:29-30 NIV. That’s practical advice. Wholesome – pure and healthy? Edifying – building others up? Serving – meeting needs? Bringing grief to another by your words could also be grieving to the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes it is not what you say, but when and how you say it. Recently, I lost my filter in some responses to my wife. It wasn’t my words exactly; it was the tone of impatience in my voice, my unspoken but clear insistence that I didn’t choose to be bothered. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit quietly and privately convicted me, before dear Gayle chose to do it for Him. “May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to You, O Lord.” Psalm 19:14 TEV. (See Psalm 141:3/Proverbs 13:2 NIV).

My prayer for you today is: don’t lose your filter. Guard your lips; you will guard your life.

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