For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." (NIV )
Deut 32:46-47 speaks of the very words that God gave to the Israelites just before they entered the Promised Land. He said that if they took His words to heart and taught them to their children, they would enjoy long life. He said that the words were not idle but were their life. Do I treat God’s Word as my life? Is it the most important part of my life? If so then I will be diligent to teach my children. My kids are grown and I have grandchildren. I tried to teach them as they grew up and now they are doing the same with their kids. That is a joy to see.
Part of taking God’s words to heart includes keeping my tongue from evil and deceitful speech. Peter is quoting Psalm 34:12-16. In it, God has given us a very simple formula for living a good life. The first part involves the heart and mind. Jesus said in Matt 15:18-20 that what comes out of my mounth reveals what is in my heart. If my heart is harboring evil, then I will naturally speak evil. I won’t be able to stop it. I may, by the will of my own being, attempt to keep my speech clean and even succeed, however it will sneak out at the least opportune time. The only way to resolve that problem is to ask God for a clean heart.
Ps 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (RSV) The only way to have a clean mouth is to have a clean heart and mind. With the power of His Holy Spirit, I can speak in the way He wants. I can build others up according to their needs and not tear them down. (Eph 4:29)
The second part of taking God’s word to heart is to put them into practice. It doesn’t do any good to conform to correct speech without physically following through. “Put your money where your mouth is.” If I say the right things, but by my actions, convey a different attitude, then my heart hasn’t really been cleansed by God. I haven’t submitted to Him if I don’t actually do what He says. James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (NIV) I can actually listen to God’s word and deceive myself by thinking that by simply knowing His Word, it is going to save me.
God listens to me when I have actually submitted to Him and have a clean heart. Does that mean that He gives me everything I want in prayer? No, it means that He works everything for my good (Rom 8:28) even the bad things that happen. I can’t toss all the other verses in 1st Peter and assume that everything is going to be roses all the time. However, I can rest assured that the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, He who controls all things has my best interests at heart. I may not see the results until I reach heaven, but I know that it will all make sense then.
This same God and Father who loves me has not promised good for those who do not love Him. The Psalm says quite the opposite. His face is against the unrighteous. In fact the Bible says a lot about the outcome of those who do not love God. Heb 10:31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NIV)
There is a simple test to determine if I really love God. John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (NIV) So what are these commands that Jesus says I need to obey? 1 John 4:20-21 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also. (RSV)