'Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." I first became aware of this Bible verse from Psalms (19:14) when I was young. I thought it was such a beautiful prayer that I adopted it for myself. I find it to this day particularly helpful when I fear I might say the wrong thing or fail to say the right thing.
Meditation has become popular as a private devotion or a spiritual exercise. Sometimes it is thought of as letting the mind go blank. One dictionary defines it in part as "deep and continued thought; reflection." I like to think of it as quiet contemplation of God, as letting Him reveal Himself to me.
To know that our thoughts are acceptable in God's sight gives great pleasure. Little children love to feel that their parents find them totally acceptable. People want to feel that way toward God. But often one's conscience spoils that feeling. Keenly aware of our own shortcomings, we find it hard to view ourselves, our thoughts, and our affections as acceptable.
The first word of that verse, however, says let. We need to let humility, good motives, trust in God be foremost in our nature. God created us in His image. Since God is Love, we must of necessity reflect Him by being loving. And we can let go of anything that contradicts God's likeness.
Sometimes it seems all right to think whatever we like, be it good or bad, as long as our words and actions appear good. But that involves a double standard in a real sense. Why be more concerned over the quality of our thoughts in another's sight than in our own sight? Just maybe, what we are too proud to have our neighbor see, we should be too honest to excuse in self-awareness.
Christ Jesus often condemned hypocrisy, saying those who practiced it were as whitewashed tombs, "which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full . . . of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27). The Pharisees of his time were careful to obey the many rules and regulations of the temple; but there is little indication that they cared about what they thought of others. Jesus advocated a higher standard, declaring that purity of heart enables one to see only good, in oneself and in his or her neighbor. Jesus stripped away hypocrisy and pretense, insisting on inward, as well as outward, integrity.
The Bible says in Proverbs, "As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he" (23:7). A friend of mine used to paraphrase this, "You be your think." What we are to ourselves and others reflects what we think, even more than what we say does.
Beyond personal views, Christian Science explains that what we are to God is what He knows of us. And this can only be good. In the light of this, our meditation should help us to become familiar with ourselves as God sees us and to live up to that ideal. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. This book helps readers learn of God. It says on page 234, "We should become more familiar with good than with evil, and guard against false beliefs as watchfully as we bar our doors against the approach of thieves and murderers." When one is faithful in learning how God created us, he or she is learning what is true, and at the same time rejecting what is false. This is protection from hypocrisy.
Probably we all have wished at one time or another that we could come up with the perfect words to fit a given situation. The preparation of the heart, through quiet and sincere listening to God, does bring the right words at the right time. It enables us to express them in the right way, or prompts us to be silent. Praying to let our words and thoughts be acceptable to God, we may even be surprised at how spontaneously we say truly appropriate things.
That little prayer from Psalms is rewarding. How many ugly scenes it has averted-and how many moments of peace it has preserved-we may never know.
You can find in-depth articles on Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.