Of course, I’m too young to remember World War II, right? But there was this restaurant back in New Jersey I could go to. It was a theme restaurant to get a little of the feel. Yeah, it actually was designed to create a feeling of WWII. It even had the tail of a plane sticking out of its roof! The walls were covered with WWII newspapers, posters, and buttons. There was this one poster that always stuck in my mind. There is this desperate GI in the ocean, just about to go under for the last time. And four words that don’t mean a lot to us now but meant life-or-death for our troops back then, “Loose lips sink ships.” Translation? When American GIs were in port, preparing to board a ship for their next mission, they were constantly reminded to talk to no one about where they were headed. Why? There were enemy spies in every port, trying to find out those destinations. If they did, the information was given to the enemy who used it to target that American ship for sinking. If a soldier talked too much, it could literally cost him his life and the lives of his comrades, because loose lips sink ships.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Loose Lips.”
The war’s over but loose lips still sink ships. Well, actually they sink relationships, and reputations, they sink people’s trust, people’s sense of worth, closeness.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 18:21 – some sobering words, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Things we say can literally bring emotional life to people or emotional death. You’ve experienced both, haven’t you? People’s words that made you feel more alive; people’s words that made you feel like you were dying inside. That’s the kind of power your words have. And if we let some wrong words spill out, like a GI carelessly spilling his destination, we can do some terrible…sometimes irreparable damage.
Proverbs, this great book of down-home, real-life wisdom from God, identifies some of the kinds of loose lips that sink ships. Listen with an open heart for a moment would you? It might be that one of these has been coming out of your mouth lately, and God wants to stop it before it does any more damage.
Here’s one: “A gossip separates close friends” (Proverbs 16:28). A relationship that was a good one gets tragically poisoned and alienated by a gossiping tongue – talking about a person behind their back, spreading bad things about someone. It’s cheap, it’s careless, it’s malicious maybe unintentionally, but it’s still malicious. It sinks closeness. It sinks trust between people. I need to know that my name is safe when I’m out of the room if you’re in that room.
Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” There’s that separation thing again. You’ve got two choices when someone hurts you or offends you. Overlook it and move on. That promotes love. Or tell someone else about what happened, which promotes alienation and distance between people.
Reckless words – they also do a lot of damage. The Bible says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). The unthinking words that spill out on someone when we’re angry or we’re not getting our way or we just feel hurt. The thrust of the verbal sword takes only an instant. But as all of us know, the wound it leaves could last for years.
So, have your lips been too loose lately? It’s time for the prayer of David in Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Maybe it’s time to ask God’s forgiveness for those damaging words. Maybe you need to ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt with your words and then regularly go to God for the self-control to keep those damaging words to yourself.
Remember, your loose lips can literally sink someone that God loves very much.