I've been impressed over and over through the years with the necessity for "sound speech which cannot be condemned" (Titus 2:8).
I've been careful not to use unnecessary words, knowing that "every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment." (Matthew 12:36)
I believe that "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:6)
I have guarded my words and intend for them to fit into one of these categories: "edification, and exhortation, and comfort." (1Corinthians 14:3)
However, I have not always been as guarded, or careful with my thoughts.
I have, over the course of the last several years, allowed my thoughts to "run a-muck". When I was feeling disgruntled about a situation or disappointed about a person, I allowed myself to grumble to God about it, in my mind. Those kind of unhappy thoughts led to muttering under my breath. No one heard. I figured it was simply a harmless emotional release on my part. Now, I'm not referring to obscenities, cursing and foul language. Sometimes, it was something sarcastic, like,"I'll believe it when I see it." Or, just plain negative: "I'm sick and tired of this!"
Was this "harmless"? What does the Bible say?
"Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
"A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart."
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he..." (Proverbs 23:7)
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
God actually woke me up very early one morning, convicting me of the danger of my negative thoughts. It isn't enough to have sound speech, I must also have sound thoughts.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
(2 Corinthians 10:5)
Well, I propose that there ought to be a fourth monkey, representing THINK NO EVIL.
One more section of verse, in conclusion, and it just happens to come before the well-known Philippians 4:8..(see above). It is Philippians 4:4-7:
"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Some translations say "IN Christ Jesus". That's where I want to be.