“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
What is or is not acceptable in society may vary from era to era, place to place, and even individual to individual. Victorian dress would feel like a suit of armor to you and me today; California casual might look out of place in an eastern higher-priced restaurant; and my short-sleeved sundresses would be frowned upon in any Amish gathering. Appropriateness in such matters may be open for discussion, but when it comes to God, displaying contrary behavior to plain commandments lies outside the bounds of acceptability, any time, any place. Most of us would agree on this point, but I wonder if doing the right thing can become so important to us that we forget that God also has a standard for what we say and think. David’s prayer to God that his words and thoughts might be acceptable before Him assures us there is the unacceptable kind, too.
It may sound clever and modern to engage in suggestive innuendo or verbal sparring, but, as I’ve said before, our choices of behavior reflect whom we’re trying to impress. And when it comes to God, wholesome, helpful, sound, and kind speech is the only kind that will get you the nod of approval. There is speech condemnable before others (Tit. 2:8), but it’s far worse if God considers it unacceptable.
And as far as our meditation goes, we can find no better guidelines than Philippians 4:8. Talk about thought provoking! Others around you may not be aware of your questionable thoughts, but they’re perfectly audible to God. The verse in Proverbs that says, “For as he thinketh in his heart so is he” (23:7a), can mean you are what you think; but it could just as easily be telling us that what we think about will eventually surface as actions. (“Fantasies soon become realities.”) If that sounds scary, we should be evaluating the acceptability of our thoughts before God long before we lament our actions.
Actually, this verse in Psalms would make a good prayer to pray in the morning. David thought so. And perhaps the most important part—the part that would bear emphasis as we pray— would be those three words, “in thy sight.” We need not be overly concerned about keeping up with today’s current standards of behavior. Not only will those change over time, they’ll change for the worse. Just remember this: If our conduct, along with our words and thoughts, are acceptable to God, we can be sure there is no higher standard.