When I was about 25 years old and still farming, I wrote out these verses in a little notebook that fit in my shirt pocket, and I read them several times everyday. I was prompted to do it because of a sermon a visiting missionary that our church helped support gave in a Sunday morning service. The sermon was on the power of our words. With our lips we worship God, tell our wife we love her, share the good news of the gospel with a lost person, and encourage someone so that they choose to serve the Lord. But with those same lips we grumble about hard times, gossip about our neighbor, hurt a person terribly with our angry words, and speak or yell curse words.
The words that the missionary spoke that convicted me deeply was, “God is always testing people to see who He can use to do His work and accomplish great things for Him, and a primary test are the words that come out of our mouth.”
As a 25 year old I wanted desperately to serve the Lord and accomplish a lot for Him, but I knew that the words that often came out of my mouth would disqualify me from doing much that mattered for Him. As the missionary put it, “I was going to be on God’s bench instead of in the game,” and I had ridden the bench a lot as a High School basketball player, and I hated it. I did not want to ride the bench in the game of life. So, I wrote out those verses and read them over and over again until the power of God’s Word began to change me from the inside out. Occasionally I get them out and read them some more when I hear myself talking rude, or mean, or gossiping, or slandering, or complaining. I like being in the game.