The following scene occurred frequently during this little rebel’s childhood. An ominous hand would guide me into the bathroom, place a green bar of soap in my hand and stand over me watchfully until the bar was fully inserted into my mouth. I was then expected to squish the soap around in my mouth for what seemed to be longer than the amount of time it takes to fly across the Atlantic, until I finally ejected it and finished the procedure with exasperated sudsy spits into the sink.
No, my parents were not torturing me, but rather trying to teach me a lesson—one that I still have to learn over and over again to this day.
“Go wash your mouth out!” my mother would proclaim every time I would get “sassy” in my speech. While I despised the stomach-turning process of washing my mouth out with soap as a child, sometimes I wish I had someone looming over me now, catching me every time I had a slip of the tongue.
The words out of my mouth are more fickle than some of my friends’ level of decisiveness when shopping. As encouraging and gentle as I may be sometimes with my words, I am full of gossip, sarcasm and slander only minutes later. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing,” as James explains it in James 3:10.
Sometimes I need the soap, as disgusting as the taste may be in my mouth, to scrub away the iniquities of my tongue. Oh God, how I need Your cleansing power to scour the depths of my soul, removing the intentions of my heart that cause destructive words to flow from within.
“Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” (James 3:11). It must be a daily choice to turn my back on the person of contradictions—to put a bridle on that which I will regret speaking later. I may have to bridle saying what’s embedded in my heart for now, but after a careful conscious cleansing, those gray or blackened areas will no longer be existent. If I will withstand the discipline without spitting it out, the gentl cleansing power of the Father’s suds will go much deeper than my taste buds; it will travel to the very depths of my soul.