My thoughts (David Zier):
I had not been in a large work place for some time. As I started an environmental engineering job in 2015 to get us good medical benefits this year, I am reminded what it is like working for a large organization. It is easy to forget what happens in a bureaucracy and a work place with many people when you’ve been away for a while. Not just how it functions, but what can happen with all the people around. Specifically, the gossip and the whispers, talking about others behind their back, and people saying things that are usually opinion or half truths so that no one really knows what is real or made up. I hate that, and I do everything I can to duck out, or at least say something like, “I have enough work to do to worry about someone else.” I get tempted to say, “This is wrong to do this, we really don’t know what is true or not, so let’s let it go. We all have our bad hair day.” But then I think I will get judged and not be effective at all in speaking up, so I just respond in the moment to be honest and show a different attitude, thinking it might have a bigger impact instead of saying something that may come across as having some kind of moral superiority.
But then there are those times when people are talking, and I get sucked in. The next thing I am doing is praying to God something along the lines of verses 3 and 4 of today’s psalm: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not turn my heart to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds, in company with those who work iniquity; do not let me eat of their delicacies.”
When we get drawn into the conversation, we can get caught up into the gossip and roll with it and say things we will later regret. I think, “The very thing I want to avoid, I am drawn into and am participating like everyone else.” Okay, maybe someone said something about someone that I agreed with. Or maybe something happened that morning that irritated me, and it was a way to let off some steam. Those are just excuses.
Psalm 141 is a good reminder. God, help refrain me. Keep me safe. Keep my eyes turned on you. Keep me from the trap that others lay. Help me to escape.
There are many ways to view this psalm: in the times we seek safety, in the times we seek refuge from evil, or in the times we seek God’s guiding hand to help us refrain from giving in to the things we ought not be doing that take us away from God. There are so many ways that we can detour and do things we know we ought not. God, do not let my lips take me away from you!
Prayer for the day: God, keep me safe. Keep my eyes turned toward you when they veer right or left. Set a guard over my mouth. Help me to refocus on you. Let my prayer be counted as incense before you. Draw me close when I am slipping away. Amen
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.