I was walking in a subway in Minsk, Belarus, with my friend Yuliya and her daughter Anastasia when I suddenly fell face first onto the dirty concrete floor. I don’t remember the fall, but I do remember suddenly having a mouth filled with sand, gravel, and grit. Ugh! I couldn’t get that stuff out of my mouth quickly enough!

I didn’t enjoy what went into my mouth on that embarrassing occasion. But Scripture teaches that it’s more important to guard what comes out of our mouths. When the writer of Proverbs 15 said that “the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (v.2), the word translated pours forth literally means “explodes out.” Rash accusations, angry words, and verbal abuse can do immeasurable and lifelong harm. The apostle Paul spoke bluntly about this: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth” (Eph. 4:29)—no dirty talk. He also said to “[put] away lying” and to “speak truth” (v.25)—no lies. And later, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you” (v.31)—no character assassination. What comes out of our mouths should be wholesome and uplifting.

We guard carefully what goes into our mouths—and rightly so. To honor God, let’s also keep tight control on the words that come out of our mouths.