My daughter has had a lot of ill health recently, and her husband has been wonderfully caring and supportive. “You have a real treasure there!” I said.

“You didn’t think that when I first knew him,” she said with a grin.

She was quite right. When Icilda and Philip got engaged, I was concerned. They were such different personalities. We have a large and noisy family, and Philip is more reserved. And I had shared my misgivings with my daughter quite bluntly.

I was horrified to realize that the critical things I said so casually 15 years ago had stayed in her memory and could possibly have destroyed a relationship that has proved to be so right and happy. It reminded me how much we need to guard what we say to others. So many of us are quick to point out what we consider to be weaknesses in family, friends, or work colleagues, or to focus on their mistakes rather than their successes. “The tongue is a small part of the body,” says James (3:5), yet the words it shapes can either destroy relationships or bring peace and harmony to a situation in the workplace, the church, or the family.

Perhaps we should make David’s prayer our own as we start each day: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).