Washing your mouth out with hope?

Have you ever heard of someone getting their mouth washed out with soap?

I’m guessing it’s not something that happens very much anymore, if ever. And that’s a good thing.

But have you ever wondered why people did that? Among other things, it was a symbolic act meant to teach a child that their words were unclean, dirty or inappropriate and therefore needed to be purified—or “washed.” 

In the Bible, James has a lot to say about the potential harm of words: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” (James 3:6).

He doesn’t mince words, does he?

He goes on to say this: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9-10).

It’s as if he’s saying we should wash our mouths out with hope! After all, we praise the God of hope who is our Lord and Father who loves us, forgives us, guides us, gives us purpose, and calls us to himself. Therefore, we should use those same praising mouths in a way that blesses and encourages his other children who are also made in his likeness.

Your tongue is the biggest muscle in your body. And your words have power to bring hurt, help, hope or healing. Which do you choose?

Let’s wash our mouths out with hope.

By Matthew Ruttan

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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