Weigh Your Words Carefully
When it comes to your tongue, here are three rules:
(1) Don’t speak too quickly. ‘We all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we…could also control ourselves in every other way.’ Because you can never be totally aware of all the sensitivities of a person, you must rely on the Holy Spirit to direct your speech in a way that doesn’t bring to mind their pain or other negative experiences. Everybody has a different sensitivity level, depending on their past experiences. That includes you too. So practise not being easily offended, and giving others the benefit of the doubt when they say something that could be misconstrued as offensive.
(2) Don’t respond too quickly. ‘To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.’ (Proverbs 18:13 NIV) Before you speak, listen carefully and make sure you understand what is really being said. And if you don’t—say so. Your need to ‘look good’ can cause you to lose respect in the eyes of the person you’re seeking to impress.
(3) Don’t commit too quickly. Solomon writes, ‘Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God.’ (Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV)
Then he goes on to explain how we shouldn’t try to drop out of a commitment by saying we made a mistake. Your word is your bond, and when you break a promise, you hurt people and forfeit their trust. So pause before you speak, and if need be, take time to pray. Your time and your words are two things that can never be taken back, so carefully weigh what you say.
Isaiah 17–21 ()
17:1 An oracle concerning Damascus.
Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city
and will become a heap of ruins.
2 The cities of Aroer are deserted;
they will be for flocks,
which will lie down, and none will make them afraid.
3 The fortress will disappear from Ephraim,
and the kingdom from Damascus;
and the remnant of Syria will be
like the glory of the children of Israel,
declares the LORD of hosts.
4 And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
5 And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain
and his arm harvests the ears,
and as when one gleans the ears of grain
in the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Gleanings will be left in it,
as when an olive tree is beaten—
two or three berries
in the top of the highest bough,
four or five
on the branches of a fruit tree,
declares the LORD God of Israel.
7 In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. 8 He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.
9 In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation.
10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation
and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;
therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,
11 though you make them grow on the day that you plant them,
and make them blossom in the morning that you sow,
yet the harvest will flee away
in a day of grief and incurable pain.
12 Ah, the thunder of many peoples;
they thunder like the thundering of the sea!
Ah, the roar of nations;
they roar like the roaring of mighty waters!
13 The nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
and whirling dust before the storm.
14 At evening time, behold, terror!
Before morning, they are no more!
This is the portion of those who loot us,
and the lot of those who plunder us.
18:1 Ah, land of whirring wings
that is beyond the rivers of Cush,
2 which sends ambassadors by the sea,
in vessels of papyrus on the waters!
Go, you swift messengers,
to a nation tall and smooth,
to a people feared near and far,
a nation mighty and conquering,
whose land the rivers divide.
3 All you inhabitants of the world,
you who dwell on the earth,
when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
When a trumpet is blown, hear!
4 For thus the LORD said to me:
“I will quietly look from my dwelling
like clear heat in sunshine,
like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
5 For before the harvest, when the blossom is over,
and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
he cuts off the shoots with pruning hooks,
and the spreading branches he lops off and clears away.
6 They shall all of them be left
to the birds of prey of the mountains
and to the beasts of the earth.
And the birds of prey will summer on them,
and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.
7 At that time tribute will be brought to the LORD of hosts
from a people tall and smooth,
from a people feared near and far,
a nation mighty and conquering,
whose land the rivers divide,
to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the LORD of hosts.
19:1 An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
2 And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,
and they will fight, each against another
and each against his neighbor,
city against city, kingdom against kingdom;
3 and the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out,
and I will confound their counsel;
and they will inquire of the idols and the sorcerers,
and the mediums and the necromancers;
4 and I will give over the Egyptians
into the hand of a hard master,
and a fierce king will rule over them,
declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
5 And the waters of the sea will be dried up,
and the river will be dry and parched,
6 and its canals will become foul,
and the branches of Egypt’s Nile will diminish and dry up,
reeds and rushes will rot away.
7 There will be bare places by the Nile,
on the brink of the Nile,
and all that is sown by the Nile will be parched,
will be driven away, and will be no more.
8 The fishermen will mourn and lament,
all who cast a hook in the Nile;
and they will languish
who spread nets on the water.
9 The workers in combed flax will be in despair,
and the weavers of white cotton.
10 Those who are the pillars of the land will be crushed,
and all who work for pay will be grieved.
11 The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish;
the wisest counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
“I am a son of the wise,
a son of ancient kings”?
12 Where then are your wise men?
Let them tell you
that they might know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools,
and the princes of Memphis are deluded;
those who are the cornerstones of her tribes
have made Egypt stagger.
14 The LORD has mingled within her a spirit of confusion,
and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds,
as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
15 And there will be nothing for Egypt
that head or tail, palm branch or reed, may do.
16 In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the LORD of hosts shakes over them. 17 And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians. Everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the purpose that the LORD of hosts has purposed against them.
18 In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD of hosts. One of these will be called the City of Destruction.
19 In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. 21 And the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. 22 And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.
23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”
20:1 In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it—2 at that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot.
3 Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, 4 so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. 5 Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. 6 And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?’”
21:1 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea.
As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
it comes from the wilderness,
from a terrible land.
2 A stern vision is told to me;
the traitor betrays,
and the destroyer destroys.
Go up, O Elam;
lay siege, O Media;
all the sighing she has caused
I bring to an end.
3 Therefore my loins are filled with anguish;
pangs have seized me,
like the pangs of a woman in labor;
I am bowed down so that I cannot hear;
I am dismayed so that I cannot see.
4 My heart staggers; horror has appalled me;
the twilight I longed for
has been turned for me into trembling.
5 They prepare the table,
they spread the rugs,
they eat, they drink.
Arise, O princes;
oil the shield!
6 For thus the Lord said to me:
“Go, set a watchman;
let him announce what he sees.
7 When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
let him listen diligently,
8 Then he who saw cried out:
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
9 And behold, here come riders,
horsemen in pairs!”
And he answered,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
and all the carved images of her gods
he has shattered to the ground.”
10 O my threshed and winnowed one,
what I have heard from the LORD of hosts,
the God of Israel, I announce to you.
11 The oracle concerning Dumah.
One is calling to me from Seir,
“Watchman, what time of the night?
Watchman, what time of the night?”
12 The watchman says:
“Morning comes, and also the night.
If you will inquire, inquire;
come back again.”
13 The oracle concerning Arabia.
In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge,
O caravans of Dedanites.
14 To the thirsty bring water;
meet the fugitive with bread,
O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
15 For they have fled from the swords,
from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow,
and from the press of battle.
16 For thus the Lord said to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. 17 And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken.”
Luke 1:57–66 ()
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
Psalm 42:1–5 ()
To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
42:1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
Proverbs 1:20–27 ()
20 Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22 “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.