Guard Heart, Lips, Eyes, And Steps
‘Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Proverbs 4:24’
Rule your speech. Guard your tongue. Mark your words. After keeping your heart with all diligence, from which come the issues of life, Solomon warned you to reject ungodly speech (Pr 4:23). Beginning with the thoughts and intents of the heart, wisdom demands you govern your speech (Pr 4:24), your eyes (Pr 4:25), and your feet (Pr 4:26-27).
It is impossible to have godly and gracious speech without a pure heart, for the content of the heart supplies the mouth (Matt 12:33-35). You can tell a good heart by kind and holy words, and you can tell a bad heart by harsh or carnal words. Jesus said it; believe it. Kings love the perfect man who speaks graciously from a pure heart (Pr 22:11).
This proverb does not warn you to stay away from those with froward mouths and perverse lips, for that advice is given elsewhere (Pr 14:7; 19:27; I Cor 15:33). It warns you to get rid of your own froward mouth and perverse lips. The context is ruling your own heart, lips, eyes, and feet (Pr 4:23-27), not avoiding others with those sins.
Solomon taught his son and told him to listen and submit to his fatherly instruction (Pr 4:20). He then exhorted him to keep his advice directly before him and firm in his resolve (Pr 4:21). And he encouraged him by saying that it would give him life and health (Pr 4:22). Then in order, he told his son to guard his heart, lips, eyes, and steps (Pr 4:23-27).
A foolish mouth will ruin your reputation (Eccl 5:3; 10:12-14). An offensive mouth will cause trouble with men (Pr 12:13; 13:3; 14:7; 18:6-7; 22:10; 24:9). And then you will give account of every idle word in the Judgment (Pr 6:16-19; Matt 12:36-37; Eph 5:3-6).
Kind and wise speech will build your reputation (Pr 15:4; 18:20; 24:26). Appropriate words will enhance your relationship with men (Pr 10:32; 15:23; 16:13; 25:11). And the blessed God is pleased with constructive and helpful words (Pr 12:22; Eph 4:29; Col 4:6).
Improve your speech by cutting your words in half, if you talk more than the average person (Pr 17:27; Jas 1:19). You then must rule your spirit, for it can kindle a fire from hell (Pr 16:32; Jas 3:3-8)! And you have to avoid arguments (Pr 26:4-5; II Tim 2:23).
If you keep your heart at peace with the Lord and man, it will be difficult for you to speak harsh or painful things. If you keep your heart pure with the Lord and man, it will be difficult for you to have foolish or carnal speech. If you fill your mind with noble things, you will have precious material for conversation (Phil 4:8). May God guide your tongue.