"Keep the door of my lips"

When the Psalmist entreated, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips," he uttered a prayer the spirit of which every student of Christian Science may wisely make his own. The Psalmist also declared, "I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue." The question of what constitutes sinning with the tongue is one that may well give us pause. Speech is undoubtedly a very powerful vehicle for good or ill in our human experience. Indeed, no one can estimate the influence or consequence of the spoken word. Times without number has a brief sentence uttered with conviction swayed human opinion and changed an entire situation, or affected the whole trend of individual thought.

How important then that the door of our lips should be kept and guarded by wisdom and love! We may be able to recall occasions when if even an instant had been taken to lift thought to God our reply to some remark would have been different, or our comment upon some individual or circumstance would not have been the same. We should then have waited for Truth to shape our thought and direct our speech, and the result could have meant only blessing to all concerned.

Idle talk, gossip, useless and uncalled-for comment upon another's problems, habits, or mode of living, may not at first seem to us to come under the head of sinning with the tongue. Greek scholars inform us, however, that a Greek word translated "sin" in the New Testament literally means "missing the mark." If in our conversation, then, we entirely miss the mark of helpful, constructive utterance, can we truly say that we have not sinned with the tongue? If what we voice serves to emphasize, personalize, or call attention to evil, can we claim innocence of harmful speech?

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Duty and Ability
June 8, 1935

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