I Was Just Thinking About – A MUZZLE.
Muzzle is a word with multiple applications. Minimally, two of the more common are: (a) the barrel of a gun or pistol; and (b) a device placed over an animal’s mouth to prevent it from biting or eating.
If muzzle is applied to Biblical principles, the application would be to restrain one’s speech and the expression of opinions. This would include bearing a false witness; hypocritical persuasion and expression; lying and propensity toward deceit; gossiping where negatives prevail; etc.
When our children were very young, there was a neighbor who had a boy the age of our children. He was cute and was fun for the children to know and with whom they enjoyed playing. However, there was a major problem. The little boy lived in a home where the parents were given to vulgarity and profanity. It was a difficult situation for our children. The little boy had learned his parent’s vocabulary and would utter profanity often. It was an impossible situation as we attempted to “muzzle” his use of those words while he was playing with our children. Even though we would remind him that if he wanted to come to our home and play with our children he would have to be careful what he said, it was difficult for that boy to express himself without using profanity.
One of the children’s choruses we had sung with our children was: “Be careful little mouth what you say…Be careful little hands what you do…Be careful little feet where you go…” But – their little friend was unchurched and regularly exposed to vulgarities and profanity.
It is obvious that King David was mindful of the importance of the words used in public discourse. In Psalm 39:1 (ESV) he wrote, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” He would go on to pray in verse 4, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” James 3:1-12 is a reminder of how important it is for one to tame his/her tongue. The way the tongue is to be used most effectively is stated in Isaiah 50:4 (ESV), “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.”
The guideline that I/We should embrace and always be mindful of is Ephesians 4:29 (NKJV), “Let no corrupt (unwholesome) word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary (and beneficial) edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” If I/We fail to remember and practice this guideline and instruction, there is a sobering result stated in Ephesians 4:30 (NKJV), “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Verses 31-32 state what the behavior and vocabulary must be, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Do you need to be muzzled? Do your words and speech edify and impart grace to the hearer? In Matthew 12:36, Jesus said: “On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless (idle) word they speak.” You and I are responsible before our Lord and Savior to speak and behave is such a way that our chief end will always be to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Prayerfully – consider these things with me.