I love to cook; however, I still have the occasional mishaps like when items boil over. When something boils over on the stove, it makes such a mess. It is horrible to clean up, and often there is still some remnant of evidence left behind of the disaster even after trying to clean up.
Today’s passage speaks of this life motto to live by, and it’s great. Guard your ways. Speak only what is right. Muzzle your mouth. Remain silent. This is all important. The Bible tells us that our words have power—life and death in fact. So, we need to be mindful of our words. And yet, we often try to hold our tongue and our thoughts fester, and we begin the spew things out of our mouth. We boil over. It is as if we become dragons and we then breathe fire over everything. Such destruction.
This boiling over lifestyle is not fruitful nor glorifying. The Psalmist here is asking for God to remind him of life’s limits, of the short time span we have here in this life. In focusing on the brevity of life, we are reminded that life here is temporary and all that we are struggling with is for a brief moment. As well, our focus is then an eternal focus. We are reminded to live this life motto out, and to seek God to help us each day so that we do not boil over. We ask Him to help us fix our thoughts. We ask Him to help us with our patience. Time is brief, and what we want to boil over is love—overflowing, overwhelming love.
“Here’s my life motto, the truth I live by: I will guard my ways for all my days. I will speak only what is right, guarding what I speak. Like a watchman guards against an attack of the enemy, I’ll guard and muzzle my mouth when the wicked are around me. I will remain silent and will not grumble or speak out of my disappointment. But the longer I’m silent the more my pain grows worse! My heart burned with a fire within me, and my thoughts eventually boiled over until they finally came rolling out of my mouth. ‘Lord, help me to know how fleeting my time on earth is. Help me to know how limited is my life and that I’m only here but for a moment more.’” – Psalm 39:1-4 [TPT]
In Psalm 34:14, we read, “Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” It’s repeated in 1 Peter 3:11. Peace is hard. Peace is something you have to search for, because it does not come easy. It takes work. We have to work to maintain it. It requires us to keep silent when we do not want to hold our tongue. It requires us to listen closely. It requires us to forgive. It requires us to use good discernment. It requires self-control. It requires a lot.
The Bible tells us to search for peace. It is something to prize, something to seek out. It is something we should desire. The Bible also says that peace has to be worked for and maintained. Peace doesn’t get handed to us. Peace isn’t going to be easy, but it is important for us to continue to aim for it.
Today, think about how you search for and maintain peace. Are you looking for peace? Are you working toward peace? When you see issues arise, are you a peacemaker or do you fan the flame of chaos? When there is the option to be a peacemaker in a situation, are you the peacemaker or the one who starts a battle?
“Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” – Psalm 34:14 [NLT]
When you get angry, it can often be difficult to keep your mouth shut and remove yourself from the situation for awhile. We want to speak out right away. We want to respond. We start to yell. We want to speak our mind. We feel the need to tell the person that we are in the right. We have to explain ourselves. We must get in the last word. We want to tell people when they are wrong and we are right. We can’t help but point fingers.
Nehemiah discovered that people were taking advantage of others. The Jews were charging interest to their brothers. As a result, the people were mortgaging fields and homes. Their children were going into slavery. They were being drained of everything. When Nehemiah found out he was very angry. But notice he did not respond right away.
Nehemiah thought it over; he considered his words and actions. He still went forward and told the people what they were doing was wrong. He told them to return to the people what was theirs. However, he waited till he contained himself and got his thoughts together. Oh how easy it could have been to immediately rush in and start pointing fingers and barking out orders. Instead he gathered his thoughts, went before the people and calmly stated the problem and provided the resolution. Now that is anger management.
“I got really angry when I heard their protest and complaints. After thinking it over, I called the nobles and officials on the carpet. I said, ‘Each one of you is gouging his brother.’”
-Nehemiah 5:6-7 [MSG]