< Table of Contents

The Mouth – Part I


Proverbs chapter 10 is where the real Proverbs actually begin, and up to this point in the book, the wise instructor has praised wisdom and tried to show his son (student) the destruction of foolishness and folly. From this point forward in this book of Wisdom, Proverbs includes dozens, actually near a hundred, references to words, speech, our tongue, mouth, lips, and talk. More than any other single subject aside from the general challenge to choose wisdom, King Solomon and the wisdom of Proverbs addresses extensively the words we use, who we speak to, and the truth of what we say.

Inside the front cover of the Bible I had in elementary school is a little note taped just under my name. I actually remember cutting it out of a workbook I had for school and taping it in my Bible. The note reads, “4. You may get into trouble if you talk too much.” I couldn’t tell you what book it came from or what numbers 1-3 were, but I knew the truth of that statement. I was the kid who never knew when to shut up. My poor teachers, and then college professors, and then my wife. Oh man…it’s still so true. “You will get into trouble if you talk too much.” As an 11-year-old boy, I didn’t realize that that truth was from the Bible.

The amount of verses in Proverbs addressing this subject is a bit overwhelming. In the actual Proverbs of chapters 10-22, the book uses comparison and contrast. So this first chapter on “The Mouth” will start with the negatives and in the second part, we’ll look at the positive uses of the mouth. The sage addresses lying, gossip, flattery, perverse talk, sarcasm, and those who just don’t know when to shut up. Proverbs chapter 10 provides us a rough outline of the rest of the passages from the book.


“The mouth of the wicked conceals violence…the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” (Proverbs 10:6, 11)

Haters hate and liars lie. A liar conceals the truth by presenting a false reality either in words or in the very way that they live. A liar “distorts, disfigures, and dissembles, and deforms truth.” Lies often are used to cover the truth, because the truth is unflattering, convicting, or damning. The truth makes a person look bad, so they choose dishonesty as a cover-up.

My oldest daughter loves the movie “School of Rock,” where Jack Black pretends to be a teacher. The movie is filled with lie after lie after lie, until the quasi-redemptive ending. I can’t stand the movie. I don’t like lying movies. Of course, I have double standards and give a complete pass to the animated movie “Mulan,” but not “Aladdin.” He doesn’t get a pass. I just can’t be entertained by lies, mostly because I have been in seasons or situations of my life where I hid the truth. Those stories remind me of my own sins.

Lying begins with what feels like a little fib or “white lie.” But there really is no such thing. Lying is lying. Lying very often leads to habitual lying. It becomes easier and liars become “better” liars. They keep a straight face and sometimes even add in some false emotions, anger, sadness, or disgust. When the reality of what they are really feeling isn’t anywhere near those emotions. They are deceiving with their actions and their words.

Liars love the control that it gives them over the world and over, what Proverbs calls, their “victims” (Proverbs 26:28). They have no respect, care, or true love for those they are deceiving. This cruel deception can take the form of flattery. Kent Hughes defines flattery as “saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.” Flattery is giving lying compliments or fake respect. This is the sweet-talker. It’s the verbal bait and switch. It’s hugging someone while knifing them in the back. Flattery is manipulation. It’s a wink and nod to the scheme. It is LYING! In “Pilgrim’s Progress,” even Christian is warned by his friend Hopeful to steer clear of The Flatterer. Solomon warns that the Adulterous, Forbidden Woman, has speech that “ smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter” (Proverbs 5:3-4). Beware of the liar, who comes in the form of a flatterer or sweet-talker or con, they are patronizing you. They will say whatever they have to just to get what they want. They will promise the world with zero intentions of following through. They have an agenda and will use smooth talk to get what they want. You are disposable. You are a means to an end. And when they get what they’ve come for, you’ll be dropped like a bad habit.

“Whoever winks the eye causes trouble, and a babbling fool will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 10:10)

“Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil.” (Proverbs 12:20)

“A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.” (Proverbs 14:5)

“Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.” (Proverbs 16:30)

“The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge, but he overthrows the words of the traitor.” (Proverbs 22:12)

“Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart. Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.” (Proverbs 26:23-26)

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I’m only joking!’” (Proverbs 26:18-19) (This could be viewed as cutting, reckless sarcasm.)

“A flattering mouth works ruin.” (Proverbs 26:28)

“Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

“A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.” (Proverbs 29:5)
“May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, ‘With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?’” (Psalm 12:3-4)

Liars begin with little, seemingly innocent lies to people around them, but internally they have also begun lying to themselves. Justifications like “What they don’t know won’t hurt them,” “Ignorance is bliss,” or my former go-to, “This isn’t going to hurt anybody but me.” Even the excuses, “Well, I didn’t lie. I just didn’t say anything” or “I accidentally left that part out,” or “I didn’t want to hurt them.” THOSE ARE LIES! The Bible calls this self-deception. At first, they may know and recognize an untruth. They simply lie to cover up another lie. After a while, they’ve buried the truth and themselves under a mountain of dishonesty. Over time the mask, the lies, the performance, the hypocrisy begins to be so second-nature, so natural, that it takes over. Habitual lying soon becomes pathological. The Liar believes his own lies. They’ve become lost in a labyrinth of lies.

A labyrinth was a maze from Greek mythology. Instead of being a maze on paper, it was a maze in real life. Today we sometimes see these at amusement parks or a corn maze or a mirror maze. I love these things. I still remember as a young boy going through a maze at a festival. At first liars, like those who enter a maze, can quickly choose to turn around. We could even call this repentance. They’ve told or lived out an untruth. It hasn’t gone very far and neither have they, so course correcting and finding their way out is pretty simple. But after a while, liars tend to get lost in their own lies. They forget who they’ve said what to. They make mistakes, so they cover it with more lies, leading them deeper into the labyrinth of lies. It’s really sad. In the Greek legend of the labyrinth, the maze, which housed a horrible monster, was eventually conquered by leaving behind a string that could be followed to get back out. Over time, habitual and then pathological liars lose the string. The truth of who they are and what they’ve done is buried under years and sometimes decades of falsehoods. In the mythological story, the labyrinth was a prison. Liars build their own prisons with their lies.

Proverbs has much to say about using words and deeds to deceive.

“Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” (Proverbs 4:24)

“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech.” (Proverbs 6:12)

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him…a lying tongue…” (Proverbs 6:16-17)

“The mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” (Proverbs 10:6)

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” (Proverbs 10:11)

“Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit...Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12:17, 19)

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)

“A man of crooked heart does not discover good, and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.” (Proverbs 17:20)

“Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.” (Proverbs 19:1)

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will not escape.” (Proverbs 19:5)

“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.” (Proverbs 21:6)

“A false witness will perish.” (Proverbs 21:28)

“Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips.” (Proverbs 24:28)

            “A lying tongue hates its victims.” (Proverbs 26:28)

God hates lying. In John chapter 8, Jesus reveals the character of the religious leaders at that time. And not just their character, but their true spiritual condition, heritage, and master is revealed by this TRUTHFUL rebuke from the Lord.

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:44-47)

Lying is the rejection of truth. Satan has no truth in him and is “the father of lies.” Proverbs calls lying lips an abomination. God loathes and detests liars, fakes, and phonies. Eventually, liars will be eternally judged. In Revelation 21:8, the apostle John writes that “…all liars [will have] their portion…in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” It’s a horrifying warning.


“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.” (Proverbs 10:18)

I once got so frustrated with our staff that I decided to play the game of telephone in our weekly All-Staff Meeting. In hindsight, it seems a bit juvenile, but thankfully it worked. The staff was sitting in about five or six rows and about ten or so seats across. I quickly wrote five or six generic announcements for events that we’ve had. The announcements included: who, what, where, when, and why. I handed the announcements to each person at the end of the row. The rules of the game were that they were only allowed to give the information once to the person to their right. The last person in the row would then go to the whiteboard and write down the information. To this day I’ve never seen the game of telephone fail to make its point. What people wrote on the board was absolutely hilarious and totally wrong. I read the original announcement as everyone cracked up laughing. My point for the exercise was that we can’t rely on announcements in our gatherings to convey all the details. We have to have a multi-pronged approach to getting people correct and timely information.

The point of the exercise could just as easily have been: see how messed up information gets when passed from one person to the next. Imagine if the game was not about some fictional event, but about a person. Sounds cruel, yet many people play this game nearly every day. One of the lessons the simple game of telephone teaches us is that gossip destroys. Slander is deadly. And yet we play around with these things like they are kid’s toys, when in reality they are deadly weapons. Gossip is a weapon of mass destruction. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death…[is] in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs likens the tongue to a sword (Proverbs 12:18). In the New Testament, James compares it to a wild beast, a source of destructive forest fires, says it’s filled with deadly venom, and goes so far to say that the tongue is “set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).

Right up front, let’s debunk the excuse, “Well, I just listened…I didn’t say anything” or “I just read it…I didn’t pass it along” as legitimate defenses. When the Bible talks about gossip, it’s talking about those speaking and those listening. Gossip is “innuendos, half-truths, and facts distorted and exaggerated beyond recognition.” To use the biblical analogies, gossip is burning somebody down, poisoning their reputation with other people, and cutting them down to size. In Proverbs chapter 6, nearly half the things God absolutely hates have to do with speech. A liar, “a false witness,” and “one who sows discord among brothers” (Proverbs 6:19).

In 2 Thessalonians 3:11 and 1 Timothy 5:13, the Bible calls gossips “busybodies.” In 1 Peter 4:15, gossips are called “meddlers.” The Greek in 2 Thessalonians is a play on words, “…everywhere doing everything but doing nothing.” A busybody knows everything about everybody. It’s their job. Rather than providing a valuable service to the community, gossip hurts, divides, and burns. The busybody is always looking for the latest news about family members, neighbors, church members, and even friends. “Did you hear about so and so?” they’ll ask. That simple question gets them ever so slightly off the hook of guilt. If you say “yes” then you are partly to blame. Gossip has been around forever. The New Testament writers addressed it 2,000 years ago. Today, we don’t even have to write a letter, make a visit, or wait for tomorrow’s paper to get the gossip or the latest juicy details. We have 24/7 access to gossip and people to pass our news along to. Now because of technology, our version of “the grapevine” moves much faster. Social media, smartphones, the 24-hour news cycle, and dedicated networks to celebrity gossip, all feed the insatiable desire to be in the know. Twice Proverbs warns:

“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Proverbs 18:8)

“The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Proverbs 26:22)

Gossip penetrates deep into our hearts. Whether we are aware or not, gossip significantly impacts the way we view people, races, nationalities, companies, entire regions of the country, schools, teachers, celebrities, politicians, and pastors. The phrase “Did you hear…” causes an instant hunger in us to be in the know. Being in the loop feels socially validating and powerful. We know something that others don’t. The initial taste is delicious, but eventually, in digestion, gossip is poisonous.

“…perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord.” (Proverbs 6:14)

“With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbor.” (Proverbs 11:9)

“By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” (Proverbs 11:11-13)

“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood.” (Proverbs 12:6)

“A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” (Proverbs 16:27-28)

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with a simple babbler.” (Proverbs 20:19)

“An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.” (Proverbs 17:4)

“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

We must commit to not being a gossiper or being a conduit for gossip. I have seen gossip destroy churches, families, and friendships. I once saw gossip destroy nearly an entire church staff. Pastors and others called by God to serve Him and His people were consumed. I shudder to look back and see the friendships that were destroyed and the Gospel opportunities that were forfeited. When a busybody comes your way, SHUT IT DOWN. Very practically, Proverbs says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20). Don’t add to the fire. Borrowing the motto from Smokey the Bear, “Only you can prevent gossip fires.”


“When words are many, transgression is not lacking.” (Proverbs 10:19)

I love all types of different music. For many years, I loved early ‘60s music. In 1960, Joe Jones released a track that still makes me laugh every time I hear it. The song is called “You Talk Too Much.” If you don’t know it, take a minute and listen to it online. After listening, don’t be offended. A woman could just as easily have sung that song about a man. The song is about a man telling his girl that she talks too much, that she worries about everything, and gossips about everyone, even people she doesn’t know. Proverbs warns about lying and gossip. It also warns about talking too much. One author said, “On average, most people speak about sixteen thousand words a day.” I’m sure as a pastor I’m way over that. Actually, I shouldn’t blame being a pastor. I just talk too much.

I was leading a funeral service for a dear man in our church. His son-in-law is a pastor and was speaking for a portion of the funeral. He was attempting to keep it short, but it just kept going. Multiple times he acknowledged that his portion was getting a little long. I could sense the discomfort in the folks sitting as he kept talking. When he finished, I was intending to make a joke, but I inadvertently crushed the guy. As I remember it, I walked toward the center of the stage, I encouraged people to clap as a sign of encouragement, then said, “No judgment from me…I don’t know when to shut up either.” With those careless words, I proved my point, looked like a bully, and used this grieving man for a laugh. I grew up hearing the saying, “The more you talk, the dumber you sound.” Mark Twain said it a little more eloquently. Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” I had removed all doubt with a careless comment.

In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher Solomon warns about talking too much even to God. It wasn’t that Solomon was discouraging prayer, it was what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6, “…they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Solomon calls us back to the fear of the Lord and how that should limit the “wordy-ness” of our petitions before God. He writes:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)

Talkers are people that just don’t know when to shut up. They are the “Chatty-Cathy” (sorry if your name is Cathy). Using too many words leads them to careless words that then leads to all kinds of other issues. The wise teacher of Proverbs warns about the pain that talking too much can cause, both personally and to others. Think about it in economic terms, specifically the balance of supply and demand. When supply is up, cost/value usually goes down. When supply is down, often cost/value goes up. Keep the supply of your words low and demand will increase. Here are a few brief bios of people who talk way too much. Their words are real cheap…a dime a dozen (or more).


This is the guy who says whatever comes to his mind. He lets it all out, not caring how anyone hears or receives his words. His right to free speech is more important than the feelings of his listeners and innocent bystanders. Again, Proverbs compares words to a sword. This person has wounded a lot of people with reckless words. He wields this sword, not caring about the collateral damage of his untamed tongue. The cuss mouth is closely related to no filter. These people aren’t safe for kids to be around. They can’t stop cussing, belittling people, or talking about crass, inappropriate subjects. They feel entitled to talk a certain way and if you don’t like it, they’ll tell you to grow up or get lost. “You can’t control the way I talk,” they’ll say. And of course, that’s the G-Rated version of what they’ll say.

“He who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3)

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts.” (Proverbs 12:18)

“Perverted speech I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13)

“The mouth of the wicked [know] what is perverse.” (Proverbs 10:32)

“The mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” (Proverbs 15:28)

“Evil men…their lips talk of trouble.” (Proverbs 24:1-2)

“Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.” (Proverbs 26:2)

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place.” (Ephesians 5:4)


All-Talk is someone who promises, guarantees, and NEVER delivers. Something or someone is always to blame for their failure. These are people who are constantly talking about all the great things they’ve done (probably all exaggerations, which are lies) and all the great things they are going to do. But they won’t. They’ll never do anything but talk about doing. They are careless with their words. The naive will be taken in by these big talkers until they get burned in business or another area of life. At the end of their lives, these people can only choose to give excuses and blameshift, or conceal the truth about their lives by lying.

“…if you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth…” (Proverbs 6:2)

“An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips.” (Proverbs 12:13)

“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23)


Before you’ve finished saying a word, this guy is ready to blow your mind with his next “brilliant” insight. In actuality, he doesn’t have a clue. He just talks. This person is convinced that the more they talk the more of an expert they’ll somehow magically become. The person who is in love with the sound of their own voice is the first, last, and probably only one to talk. You won’t get a word in edgewise. They may give an appearance of listening, but they aren’t. They are preparing their next rant, diatribe, argument, or “insight.” These people, unlike All-Talk, might actually be successful. And if they are, by the end of your time with them, you’ll know ALL about it. And you’ll have received mounds of unsolicited advice on every area of your life. I feel like most of these people should just start podcasts, that way we can decide if we even want to listen or limit or just ignore them all together.

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13)

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

“A babbling fool will come to ruin…the mouth of a fool brings ruin near…the perverse tongue will be cut off.” (Proverbs 10:8, 14, 31)

            “A fool multiplies words.” (Ecclesiastes 10:14)

What comes out of the mouth is a window into “our innermost being.” “For out of the abundance of the heart,” Jesus said, “the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). We may view words as harmless, insignificant, or no big deal, but God says, “On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). Words have the power of life and death. Words not only can destroy people through lies or gossip or recklessness overuse, words can also destroy the person using them. God is keeping an account of every word we say. The Lord told the chatty religious leaders, “By your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.” (Proverbs 18:6-7)

“By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back.” (Proverbs 14:3)

Claire, Belle, Maverick, Ruby, Mavis,

Ooooooooooo ain’t nothin’ I hate more than a liar. If I can’t trust your words, I can’t trust you. Once that trust is broken, it takes A LOT to build it back. Years and sometimes a lifetime. These are all things I’ve told you since you were tiny humans. When you were all growing, you all went through the stage of trying out lying. Some of you were better at it than others. I’ll let your brains squirm trying to figure out who was the best at it. But if you remember back I would always say, I won’t let you be a liar. I would do everything in my power to not let this happen. Once I discovered you had entered this stage, I was on you like white on rice. This wasn’t going to happen on my watch.

Now obviously Dad and I had to help guide you and kick your butts, but ultimately I had to pray a ton because I knew only the Lord could change your hearts. He had to change your heart or you would only get better at lying. We need to rely on the Lord to change and renew hearts and minds. Because like Matthew says in chapter 15:18, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” I feel like lying is such a root sin. If you become an adulterer, well what happened first? You lied. If you become a thief, what happened first? You lied. If you become a cheat, what happened first? You lied. Get my point? I feel like lying is where things begin, whether it is lying to yourself or to other people. I have been on the receiving end of people’s lies a lot in life and that causes hurt and pain that can’t be fixed this side of Heaven. So for you, remember, you may be dirt poor and have nothing to your name, people might not be able to say a whole lot about your accomplishments in life but they better be able to say, I can trust their word. Because if they can trust your word and what you say about everyday things in life, then they will be able to trust what you say about Jesus. Isn’t that our ultimate goal? Lead others to the Lord. If they can’t trust your words about smaller things, how can they trust you about Him?

As I sat here and prayed about what to say to you about liars and lying, all I could think of was, just don’t be one. We all lie at some point in life, it is better to own up to it and take responsibility. That is how trust starts to be built again. Maybe you are reading this today and you are a perpetual liar. You can’t find your way out of the “Labyrinth of Lies” as Dad so neatly put it. Ask for help. Find someone that will call you out on your crap. Someone that won’t let you fudge the truth. Don’t wait until you are caught to fess up. Initiate and take ownership for the hurt. The Lord can renew your mind, your heart and offers forgiveness to you. It’s yours for the taking.


Questions for Reflection

What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever heard?

How have lies negatively impacted your life?

Have you seen gossip hurt your family? Work? Church? Community?

How has gossip negatively impacted your life? Were you the subject? The speaker? Or the listener?

Even Jesus in John chapter 8 seems to be a victim of gossip. The Pharisees attack the Lord saying, “We were not born of sexual immorality” (John 8:41). Later they mock Jesus’ mother, by insulting Jesus’ ancestry, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48). The rumors surrounding Jesus’ birth varied, that He was illegitimate, to His real father was a Roman soldier.

Has your mouth ever gotten you into trouble? Remember, confession is good for the soul.

How have you seen too many words lead to bigger problems?

Is everything awkward silence to you or are times of silence refreshing? Are you comfortable in silence?

(If you’re answering these questions in a group setting, be ready for some silence.)

< Table of Contents
Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 |

Copyright © 2022 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.