I've been studying the book of Judges for the past couple of months. And right now I'm reading in chapters 10 & 11 about Jephthah. Lots to learn there but one thing has really stood out to me.
Jephthah made a rash vow - for those who haven't read this particular section of Scripture, here's the gist...
Jephthah went into battle and promised God if he won, he'd sacrifice to God the first thing he saw upon returning home. Well, he won the battle and when he arrived home, it was his only daughter (his only child!) who was running out to greet him. And so he kept his word to God.
Now there is some debate about whether he actually sacrificed his daughter or if she was just never allowed to marry and therefore Jephthah had no heirs. Regardless of which is true, for me, the issue is that vow.
Did he really need to make the vow? I believe it was a rash promise to God - trying to make a deal. And, while I would love to say that I've never done such, deep inside, I know I have. I've promised God so many things - because of emotion or situation. I think we all do that at times. But I'm wondering, how many times we just say things that we shouldn't. We make promises we can't (or won't) keep. We speak with so little thought about the significance of the words we say.
Yesterday I was talking with a wise friend and we were sharing on this general topic. She mentioned that Elizabeth George talks about our words being like feathers released from a pillow - they can never be all put back. (See "A Woman's High Calling" by Elizabeth George) I've been thinking about that since we talked. There are just countless verses in the Word about our mouth, the tongue, speech, etc. Why did God have so much to share about this area of life? I believe it's because it is such a real area of struggle for all of us. Whether you are like me - lacking that filter that keeps you from saying things you shouldn't - or have another issue - such as coarse language or gossip - learning to "bridle the tongue" is a big deal in the walk of a Jesus follower.
I'm still sorting through what God is showing me - and how He wants to change me through this process. But one thing I've certainly begun to grasp - I don't want to be like Jephthah and just speak. I want my words to build up, to encourage, to minister, to serve. My life verse is Psalm 19:14 - May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. My heart's desire to that the words I say and, even more, the heart behind what I say and what I don't, will be pleasing to my Father.
So, what about you? How's your mouth?