Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Put a Guard on My Mouth

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Some of us women don’t even have a pause button on our tongues, and we need it. Pause. Stop. “Set a watch, oh Lord, before my mouth. Keep the door of my lips.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 26.

For the last week and a half Nancy challenged us deeply in a series called, "The Beauty of Meekness." Now, is it wise for a woman to seek meekness in 2013? Won’t she get trampled? Let’s listen.

Nancy: We’ve been on a journey to seek meekness as the Scripture says that we should do, and at points I’ve seen people grimacing, like, “Could you talk about something else for a while that would be a little easier to take? This is too convicting.”

The reason it’s convicting is because we aren’t meek. We’re not humble in spirit, and no one is naturally meek. Some may be naturally quiet, but we all have flesh, and we all have flesh that reacts and that gets provoked. Don’t think that anyone you know, don’t look me and say, “Oh, she must just have meekness down.” You don’t live with me, and even the people who live with us don’t know our hearts. So it’s our hearts God is looking at.

Meekness is a quality of Christ. It’s one that He says we should learn from Him how to be meek and lowly in spirit. There’s such power in meekness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)

In the last session and this one, we’re just talking about some tips, some hints to get you started in a progression of seeking meekness.

Let me read, as I start this session, some emails we’ve received from listeners that show the lack of meekness and what it does to us and our relationships. This woman says,

I am by nature one of the most argumentative people you will ever meet.

Now we said in the last session that being honest is the starting place in developing meekness, so I appreciate this woman’s honesty. She said,

If there’s something I feel needs to be said or debated, I would be the one to say it. God has been convicting me all week with this series. Normally I would not even consider whose feelings I hurt when I speak. In my mind I am telling it like it is and somebody needs to say it, so why not me.

I’ve realized that this is a part of my impatience with people in general. I have been working to “shut up” more. I think I will get together with another one of my talkative friends today and begin to start holding each other accountable.

Please keep telling it like it is so people like me will not always tell it like it is.

Well, I’m thankful that woman has a teachable spirit, and she illustrates what I think is one of the keys to developing meekness and quietness of spirit, and that is to get other believers involved in your life, to do life together with others. God never intended us to become mature believers on our own. We need others. So she said, “I’m going to get together with a friend who also struggles with this issue of meekness, and we’re going to hold each other accountable.”

Now, I would suggest that not only do you get with people who struggle with the same sin issue, but also get with people who evidence grace in this area of their lives who evidence a humble and a meek spirit. Hang around them. Spend time with them, and ask them to pray for you. Ask them to hold you accountable.

I said to my staff, "When you see patterns in my life of this or other areas that are not glorifying to the Lord and I'm not catching it, love me enough to come and help me to see it." It may be a blind spot how I'm dealing with this situation. Don't just let me run over people, blab at the mouth, and say things I shouldn't be saying and fail to glorify God. Give people the freedom to speak into your life. We need to help each other. I need them in my life. You need others in your life. We need each other. So get other believers involved as this woman said she’s going to do.

Here’s another listener who said,

We relocated seven months ago, and it has been very stressful financially on both of us. I continually nag, micro-manage, and resent my husband because I think my ways are better. [See the opposite of a meek spirit there?] By doing this, not only have I disrespected my husband, but I have disrespected and not trusted the Lord. I realize I am the one who is making this marriage miserable.

Thank God that that woman’s eyes are being opened. She’s taking responsibility. She’s not blaming her husband. She’s being honest about her nagging, micro-managing, resenting her husband; her pride, her arrogance that thinks, My ways are better. She’s realizing also that in doing this she’s not trusting the Lord. She’s trying to control, and that’s where a lack of meekness comes from.

So the honesty we talked about in the last session is illustrated in that woman. Be honest about how the lack of meekness is manifesting itself in your life.

I think it’s important for us women to hear from men how our lack of meekness affects them. Here’s a man who very honestly poured out his heart:

While I love my wife, the desire to show that has diminished. (Ten years ago I used to buy her flowers at least once a week.) [So there were practical expressions of love.] I still love her, but I’m not as motivated to show it. Why?

The constant "no" to whatever I suggest, arguing against everything, trying to set the agenda, criticizing my driving, down to whether I take this route or that one which are both okay. These things leave me worn out and deflated and lonely.

Ladies, God did not wire men to hold up well under our being shrews, controlling, nagging, manipulating. Now, you say, “Well, you need to talk about what the men do, too.” No, that’s some other radio program. That’s not my job. That’s not my calling. My job is to speak to us as women, and here’s a husband who’s being really honest and saying, “I love my wife, but this wears me out. I’ve lost my motivation.”

Now, he’s still responsible to keep loving his wife, and there’s no excuse for him not to, but, ladies, we can make it easy or difficult for people around us to work with us, to live with us, to love us.

So what do we do?

We talked about some specific things in the last session. Let me give you several others here.

I think a huge one is just learning to guard our tongues—learning to guard our tongues. Be slow to speak.

Matthew Henry says in his book, The Quest for Meekness and Quietness in Spirit—I’ve referenced that book multiple times throughout this series, and I want to encourage you to get a copy of it, but I’ll tell you, it’s not easy reading. You have to read it slowly, carefully. You may want to read it with your accountability partner and use it to help each other. In that book, he says, "Learn to pause."

Pause when something irritates you, when a circumstance doesn’t go your way, when you get a piece of news that you weren’t expecting. Pause before you respond.

I find I get in so much trouble if I speak quickly. Invariably I’m going to say the wrong thing. We have a man on our staff who has what he calls “the twenty-four-hour rule.” When we’re dealing with a difficult situation, and we’re wanting to go back and respond to something we’re not pleased with, he says, “I take twenty-four hours before I send the email. I may write the email, but I don’t push send. I wait until the next day and just make sure that’s what I’m supposed to say.” That’s a wise man. That’s a meek spirit.

Some of us women don’t even have a pause button on our tongues, and we need it. Pause. Stop. “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips!” (Ps. 141:3)

Proverbs 14, verse 29: “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive [or hasty of spirit] exalts folly.”

Ecclesiastes chapter 5: “Be not rash with your mouth nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few” (v. 2).

Proverbs 19, verse 11: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

Let it go. You don’t have to address—I don’t have to address—every issue that comes up. I don’t have to respond to everything that bothers me or troubles me or annoys me. Let it go. That’s the glory of a man to overlook an offense.

Now, if there’s a pattern in one of your children’s lives or your husband’s life, or a friend, then in Galatians, in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, we go to them, we try and restore them in a spirit of meekness, but we don’t have to point out every time somebody does something they shouldn’t have done.

Pause and think,

  • Is this the time to say this?
  • Am I the person to say this?
  • Is this necessary?
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it true?
  • Do I need to say this?

And just by pausing, meekness would have a chance to come into gear and the things we say would reflect a greater spirit of meekness.

Again, let me read just a couple of emails from listeners that show the importance of this. One woman said,

I need to change. I realize I have been angry and harsh toward my husband and my daughter. Now I understand why they say, "Why are you so mean?" I don’t mean to be mean to them.

I grew up in a home where my mom was very stern toward my sister and me. The words she said to us at times cut like a knife. The sad part is that I promised myself I wouldn’t do that to my daughter, and now look at me.

God has used Revive Our Hearts to open my eyes and my heart to this problem. I will now make an effort with God’s help to give a soft answer.

Another woman said,

It’s very difficult for me to remain calm and say nothing when I see a man doing something wrong, but since listening to Revive Our Hearts, the topic of discernment and the power of a controlled tongue, I’ve been implementing these insights in my life. I see how men are surprised at my being more curbed with my opinions now and how I enlist and wait upon their answers and affirm them on their thoughts and suggestions. Now people aren’t as afraid of my tongue-lashings as they have dramatically decreased.

It has been a hard road, and I am still struggling to do it, but it is fulfilling and calming to know you were acting on the will of the Lord.

Then just two more thoughts about cultivating meekness and quietness of spirit, and then I want to read a testimony to you.

Matthew Henry has, in his last chapter, a list of suggestions for how to cultivate meekness. There’s one I never would have thought of on my own, but I think it’s very powerful, and I want to share it with you. He says it this way:

Converse much in your thoughts with a dark and silent grave. Think about death.

Now, I would not have thought of that as a key to meekness and quietness of spirit, but he says it is, and listen to the reason he gives:

You meet with many things now that disturb and disquiet you, and much ado you have to bear them. [They stress you out, they make you anxious and agitated, all these things that disturb and disquiet you.]  Think how quiet death will make you and how incapable of resenting or resisting injuries.

If you’re lying in a casket at your funeral, and someone comes up and stands at the open casket and says, “I never did like you anyway. I thought you were a . . .” and starts to say all these unkind things about you, what are you going to do? Nothing. You’re dead. He says,

Think about what it’s like when you’re dead, and you can’t resist or resent injuries. You will soon be out of the reach of provocation. And is not a quiet spirit the best preparation for that quiet state? [Prepare to die by living right as you respond to being provoked.]

Think how all these things which now disquiet us will appear when we come to look death in the face. How small and inconsiderable they seem to one who is stepping into eternity.

I think if we could have regrets as we’re stepping into eternity, I think it may be that we look back and we see the little things we made such a big deal out of. “Why did I do that? Why did I fly off the handle about that? Why did I not let that go? Why did I not respond in meekness rather than in anger?” He said,

Think how small these things will seem when you’re stepping into eternity. Death will quiet us shortly. Let grace quiet us now.

Good words, huh?

Then this thought: "Fix your eyes on Jesus. Learn from Him. Spend time with Him. Let Him 'rub off' on you." Let His character, His meekness become yours.

Isaiah 42, verse 1, describes in a prophetic way the meekness of Christ. It says, “I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.” But how does He do that?

Verse 2: “He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.”

Jesus is gentle. He’s meek, and He’s kind, and that’s how He affects ultimately justice in the world. As we’ve said, it’s the Lamb of God who was slain before the foundation of the earth who conquers. The story of history is the Lamb wins. The Lamb overcomes, and so by meekness, may we. Focus on the cross.

Matthew Henry says,

Think often how and what manner He suffered; see Him led as a lamb to the slaughter, and arm yourselves with the same mind.

That’s what we read about in 1 Peter chapter 2:

To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but he continued in trusting himself to God who judges justly.

That’s the spirit of meekness.

So look at Christ. Feast on Him. Learn from Him. Live in His presence. Linger at the cross, and let the image of the cross shape His image of meekness in you.

I want to close this session by sharing a story that a woman wrote and shared with us not too long ago. It just illustrates some of the aspects of what we’ve been talking about in this whole issue of meekness. She says,

Right after Bible College I married a man who I thought had a wonderful relationship with our Lord and was headed in the same direction I was. It didn’t take long for me to find out that that was not the case. I found myself seeking God alone and reading my Bible alone. My husband was fighting with me over my biblical beliefs. What a shock to find out we were heading down two totally different paths.

There was great turmoil in our home. My husband has a very bad temper, and I became the object of his anger most of the time for one reason or another. I slowly became very bitter at him for the way he way hurting me and for the feeling of being deceived. I thought he was someone else and found out that I was wrong, and I resented him for that.

My husband got a job offer from his father for us to move out of state and start over. He was thrilled. I was not. All of our families were here, and I was very close to my parents, and they were very attached to our son. So that was a very hard choice to make, but in the end, trying to be a “good wife,” I went along with it. We moved far away with no friends, no family—except his unbelieving father—and I was pregnant and sick with our second child and no church or Christian support of any kind.

As time went on, things went from bad to worse. My husband’s slide away from the Lord only increased, and then I found out the ugly truth. For two years he had been looking at pornography behind my back. I was overwhelmed with the darkness and horror that surrounded me. This sheltered, homeschooled, Christian girl, and here I was in what was, to me, the midst of hell.

I spend a lot of time in bitterness and feeling sorry for myself. I was living with a husband who was supposed to be saved but not living like he was, and who was treating me with great unkindness. Many times in this period I thought, This is it. I’m going to take the kids and leave him. Surely God does not expect me to suffer this much. But in the midst of it, my praying, godly mother [thank the Lord for praying, godly mothers] held me in there saying, “Don’t look with the eyes of the flesh, but believe that all things are possible with God.”

Well, easier said than done, I thought. You are living with my father who is one of the most wonderful godly men in the world, and I am living with every woman’s worse nightmare.

Things had been coming to a critical mass when a friend back home told me I should start to listen to Revive Our Hearts, and that I would find great encouragement there. So desperate as I was, I did. That was when you were starting your series on the Proverbs 31 woman. The first three times I listened, I thought, This is crazy. Someone else can do this because they’re living with a good man who treats them well and is the godly, spiritual head over their house, but Nancy could not expect me to do this when I am living with my kind of husband!

But even after all I’ve been through, my heart is tender to the Holy Spirit, and it wasn’t long before great conviction began to press me. Suddenly, I started to see all the ways I had contributed to the mess our house was in. Instead of trusting the Lord to change my husband, I had allowed bitterness and self-pity to enter in and change me and make me angry at him and unwilling to love and serve him the way the Lord calls us to. I felt like, Why should I? All you’ve done is hurt me and cause me pain? Why should I go out of my way for you? I treated him more like the enemy than my husband.

I saw how cold my heart had become. [Honesty—that’s the starting place.] What a shock to see that I wasn’t the perfect Christian wife that I had thought I was.

You see, when we’re looking at the other person—this is me speaking, interjecting this in her letter—when we’re looking at the other person and their faults and their failures and their flaws, we’re blind to our own issues and needs.

I started to see that in my "holy zeal," I was disrespecting him and bringing shame to our Lord. I wept a long cleansing from the bottom of my bitter, bruised heart. I repented for all the ways I had not shown my wandering husband the love and forgiveness of Christ. As I started to hear what a godly wife and mother should look like, I realized how far short I fell.

These recent weeks have been some of the hardest I have known. Change never comes easy or without a price, but nothing that is worth having comes easy. I also realized that no amount of resolve could help me love my unloving husband, but I knew by the power of our precious Lord living through me that I could.

And let me just say also that no amount of resolve can make you a meek and quiet-spirited woman. It’s through faith in Christ and what He has done on our behalf and letting Him be Christ in us that the supernatural really is possible.

I started to see that if I changed, truly changed, he would have to sit up and take notice and see that God truly is at work. There have been many small victories over these past few weeks. Each one gives me courage to keep going on. When he mistreats me, I respond in a gentle spirit instead of the usual annoyed I-can’t-stand-you attitude.

What she’s doing is changing the dance step, and it’s requiring that he change. Not because she’s making him change, but because he’s not used to this. When one person changes the paradigm, changes the move, then it’s amazing how often God will move the other person’s heart to change.

God has been helping me to serve him in ways that I do not or would not have usually done. I praise God because I have renewed strength and vision. I can be the woman of Proverbs 31 by God’s grace even in the midst of a difficult marriage. I can raise my children to know and love the Lord even when my husband does not support those beliefs. I have so much hope in my heart. It has been years since I have felt this way.

I’m so thankful for God’s grace in that woman’s life. I’m so thankful for the hope that He is giving her in what has been a hopeless circumstance. We get in those circumstances, and we tend to think the only thing that could make this hopeful is if the other person changes or the circumstance changes. But you see what gave this woman hope? It’s when she let God change her.

Now, I’m not saying that if your circumstances are bad that that’s necessarily because you’ve been responding wrongly. You may respond rightly and still have painful or difficult circumstances. That’s what Calvary is about—the just suffering for the unjust so that He might bring us to God. But make sure, as Peter says, that when you’re suffering it’s not because of your mouthiness, your arrogance, your lack of meekness. Make sure it’s not for your wrong doing.

Take the Spirit of Christ. Stay focused on the cross. Keep your eyes on Christ, and let Him, by His grace, transform you into a meek and gentle quiet-spirited woman. The Scripture says in 1 Peter 3 that there are some husbands who are not obeying the Word of God who will be won over to God’s way of thinking while they see this meek and chaste and pure behavior—they see Christ in you—and the conviction will come on them, and their lives may be transformed as well.

God’s Word says “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). I want to encourage you, as God has been encouraging me, over the days ahead, seek meekness.

Lord, how I pray that as women we would reflect the humble, meek, gentle, quiet Spirit of the Lord Jesus, not turbulent in our spirits, not agitated, not arrogant, not resentful of circumstances or people, but surrendered to You, saying, “Yes, Lord,” and receiving the circumstances and the people You bring into our lives as from You for our good.

Oh Lord, change us from the inside out. Make us like Jesus, and may our lives make the people around us thirsty and hungry to know and to follow Him.

I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: It’s only through that name that we can develop the kind of meekness Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been describing so well.

A lot of women are being challenged by the teaching series called, "The Beauty of Meekness," because this topic is so rarely talked about. I hope the words of this program will be the beginning of an exploration of meekness. We’d like to help you learn more by sending you the book The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit by Matthew Henry. Nancy’s been quoting from this book throughout the series. It’s taught her a lot, and you’ll experience the same thing.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you the book. 

Ask for The Quest for Meekness when you call with your gift. Here’s the number: 1-800-569-5959, or take advantage of this offer at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Our study on meekness has been very practical. Hear from women who are in situations that require Christ-like meekness. That’s tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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