The Holy Ghost muzzle is a grace, not a punishment.
We all need it from time to time. No exceptions. The Poet says,
“I will put a muzzle on my mouth while the wicked are in my presence.”
I had a beagle named Bailey.
He was my pal. Every night when we let him out before bedtime, he would station himself in the backyard to warn the neighborhood of some danger only he could sense. A full moon really set him off. I am sure the neighbors would have gladly supplied us with a muzzle for Him.
There isn’t another reason I can think of to muzzle a beagle; they are such gentle and playful dogs. They were, however, designed to make noise, to bay and howl on the trail of a rabbit and to warn of the approach of an intruder. He was a little dog but his “big dog bark” was impressive.
We also may be gentle souls; dutifully saved by grace and full of peace on earth and goodwill toward men. We can also, however, be noisy. Not everything that runs through our minds need to flow out of our mouths.
In simple words we need to watch what we say and sometimes shouldn’t say anything at all.
The metaphor for speech often used in the Bible is the tongue. James, the Lord’s brother, has the most to say on the subject
- “Keep a tight rein” on the tongue
- “It makes great boasts,”
- “Is also a fire,” and finally,
- “No man can tame” it.
So, how do we know what to say? The answer is simple—edit yourself! Think before your speak. Ask questions like:
- Is this true or false?
- Is this helpful or hurtful?
- Is this private or public?
- Is this any of my business?
- Where will this lead the conversation?
Another question is: when do we speak and when do we keep silent?
- When saying something is kind, we should speak.
- When saying nothing is kind, we should not speak.
- When something must be said, we should speak.
- When nothing needs to be said, we should not speak.
King Solomon proved this wisdom:
Eccl 3:1-8 NIV
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…
a time to be silent and a time to speak…
When it is time to speak we need the boldness of the Holy Spirit and when it is time to be silent we need the Holy Spirit’s muzzle.
The Holy Ghost muzzle is a grace, not a punishment. We all need it from time to time.
I said, “I will keep watch upon my ways, so that I do not offend with my tongue. I will put a muzzle on my mouth while the wicked are in my presence.” So I held my tongue and said nothing; I refrained from rash words; but my pain became unbearable. My heart was hot within me; while I pondered, the fire burst into flame; I spoke out with my tongue: Lord, let me know my end and the number of my days, so that I may know how short my life is. You have given me a mere handful of days, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight; truly, even those who stand erect are but a puff of wind. We walk about like a shadow, and in vain we are in turmoil; we heap up riches and cannot tell who will gather them. And now, what is my hope? O Lord, my hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions and do not make me the taunt of the fool. I fell silent and did not open my mouth, for surely it was you that did it. Take your affliction from me; I am worn down by the blows of your hand. With rebukes for sin you punish us; like a moth you eat away all that is dear to us; truly, everyone is but a puff of wind. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears. For I am but a sojourner with you, a wayfarer, as all my forebears were. Turn your gaze from me, that I may be glad again, before I go my way and am no more.
James 1:26-27; 3:3-12
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
1 Peter 3:8-12 NIV
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
1 Peter 2:15-16 NIV
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Lord Jesus, help me speak when it is time to speak and give me the words to say. Help me to hold my tongue when there is nothing right to say. Let my words be measured in grace. Help be speak the truth in love and never in hate or prejudice or petty nonsense. Somehow, may others hear Your voice in the sound of my voice. Let me speak peace and healing, comfort and challenge—just the things that need to be said! And, Lord, help me to really listen to others! Amen.
Be Still My Soul
Words and Music: Don Moen
Be still my soul. Be still my soul.
Cease from the labor and the toil.
Refreshing springs of peace await
The troubled minds and hearts that ache.
Be still my soul. God knows your way
And He will guide For His name’s sake.
Plunge in the rivers of His grace;
Rest in the arms of His embrace.
Be still my soul. Be still my soul,
Though battles round you rage and roar.
One thing you need and nothing more
To hear the whisper of your Lord.
Be still My child I know your way
And I will guide For My name’s sake.
Plunge in the rivers of My grace;
Rest in the arms of My embrace.
Be still, be still my soul
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved