Harsh Words

Reading: Matthew 7:1-6

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;

Keep watch over the door of my lips.

Do not incline my heart to any evil thing….

Psalm 143:3-4a

“The Dangerous Door” was published in The King’s Daughter and Other Stories for Girls in 1910. This book of moral stories is in the public domain and may be read freely online.


“Oh, cousin Will, do tell us a story! There’s just time before the school-bell rings.” And Harry, Kate, Bob, and little Peace crowded about their older cousin until he declared himself ready to do anything they wished.

“Very well,” said Cousin Will. “I will tell you about some dangerous doors I have seen.”

“Oh, that’s good!” exclaimed Bob. “Were they all iron and heavy bars? And if one passed in, did they shut and keep them there forever?”

“No; the doors I mean are pink or scarlet, and when they open you can see a row of little servants standing all in white, and behind them is a little lady dressed in crimson.”

“What? That’s splendid!” cried Kate. “I should like to go in myself.”

“Ah! it is what comes out of these doors that makes them so dangerous. They need a strong guard on each side, or else there is great trouble.”

“Why, what comes out?” said little Peace, with wondering eyes.

“When the guards are away,” said Cousin Will, “I have known some things to come out sharper than arrows, and they make terrible wounds. Quite lately I saw two pretty little doors, and one opened and the little lady
began to talk like this: ‘What a stuck-up thing Lucy Waters is! And did you see that horrid dress made out of her sister’s old one?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ said the other little crimson lady from the other door, ‘and what a turned-up nose she has!’ Then poor Lucy, who was around the corner, ran home and cried all evening.”

“I know what you mean,” cried Kate, coloring.

“Were you listening?”

“Oh, you mean our mouths are doors!” exclaimed Harry, “and the crimson lady is Miss Tongue; but who are the guards, and where do they come from?”

“You may ask the Great King. This is what you must say: ‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: keep the door of my lips.’ Then He will send Patience to stand on one side and Love on the other, and no unkind word
will dare come out.”

For Further Study:

  • Sometimes people misuse these verses in Matthew 7 to say that we should never judge others. What Christ is talking about here is hypocritical judgment ~ judging others with a standard that we do not use on ourselves. Also included is judging others with harshness and mean-ness instead of being gentle and careful, as we would want when someone corrects us.
    Do you criticize people for lying but then deceive others? Do you criticize people for stealing and then “borrow” what is not yours without permission? Are you quick to find fault without hearing the whole story? We want to have righteous judgment: judging that is not hypocritical, but thinks about what is best for another person’s soul.
    Read John 12:42-50. Also read Hebrews 4:12. What has God given us so that we can have righteous judgment?
  • Read Galatians 6:1-5. How can these verses help us learn not to be harsh and hypocritical with others when they do wrong?
  • Draw a picture of the “door” of your mouth, with the door open, and guards on each side.
    Outside the open door, draw or write the things that you wish would come out of your mouth.
    Within the open door, draw or write the things that you wish would not come out.
    What kind of thoughts would help you guard this door? That is, what could you think about and tell yourself so that you could be a better guardian of your words?
Posted in Anger, Humility/Pride, Kindness, Patience. Comments Off on Harsh Words
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