We move from our heart to our mouth as we look at Proverbs 4:24. Be warned, this is a challenging piece of advice to heed.
Proverbs 4:24: “Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.“
A Perverse Mouth and Corrupt Talk
We should start by examining what corrupt talk and a mouth of perversity looks like. I think the easiest way to classify this is to consider gossip, slander, and even embellishment. This also extends to foul language and even disparaging remarks.
We have learned through experience and a deeper understanding of each other that words often create a longer lasting harm than other actions. There are all sorts of examples of people that are emotionally crippled or devastated by words alone. This impact is a critical thing to understand as parents. The things we say to our children can easily stay with them for a lifetime. We can say things that seem trivial but end up poisoning relationships and self-esteem.
More Weight Than We Know
When you think about it, as Solomon probably did, this makes a lot of sense. You may have bruises and scars from a physical beating, but thinking about the beating will not bring them back or refresh them. A verbal lashing is different. You can torment yourself by reliving the words someone has used and they will feel as sharp as they did when first heard. In fact, it may even be worse. This is how brainwashing works. When you hear something over and over it is hard to not think of it as more likely to be true.
A great example of this is our daily news. Spend time listening to those that have different daily news sources. They will likely have very different views of the world beyond what is explained by their personal experience. You can see this effect in stories about social media relationships gone bad as well.
Teaching Children this Wisdom
The good news is that this bit of wisdom can be seen in examples every day. The school environment is potentially the best place for such examples. How often do kids call each other names and say mean things? Another good example of a mouth of perversity is foul language in kids. Ask your kids what is typically thought of children that use a lot of “bad words.” We are viewed in a certain light based on the words we use. This judging of others can be contrasted with how we view those that use big or scholarly words. In any case, a child’s world is full of lessons about choosing your words and not speaking evil.