“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10:19
There is no doubt that our mouths are word factories. They have become all-together efficient at producing vast amounts of content in limited amounts of time. Our conversations are of such passion and over-speak, of run-on sentences and volume, that it is, as the axiom goes… “hard to get a word in edgewise”–Interesting picture! The imagery is of a dialogue in such abundance and concentration that a word turned skinny-wise could even still not be easily injected into the discourse. Oh, so often, we love to speak more than we enjoy listening.
So, it is no surprise that we would exit a conversation with a bit of introspection, in order to process the tempestuous verbal overload. “Did I just say that?” “Why did I just say that?” “Did I really have to say that?” “Why did I use those words?”
How many times have we departed a dialogue of deep engagement and been compelled to ask those questions of our encounter? Likely, the reason for discomfort is due to an abundance of words, an excess of our verbal economy which resulted in unnecessary, unproductive, or questionable verbiage.
Conversational inventory is good. Even better if our convictions compel us to make our way to the other party and apologize if we have offended. Most of us (I would hope) have matured to the point where we realize the old adage was a lie– “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Oh, the defense mechanisms of youth!
Anyway, as we age, if we are truly growing up, we come to embrace the wisdom that not every clutch of eggs should be hatched, not every thought needs to be aired, and not every word, spoken.
We do well to ask: “Was it needed?” “Was it true?” “Was it timely?” “Did it need to be communicated in thatway?” Perhaps, in our exchange we communicated something not true. Perhaps, in our zeal we failed to allow the other party to adequately express their heart. Perhaps in our passion we ravaged the other person.
My pastor rightly said, “Never miss a good opportunity to shut up.” In the present-day surplus of words, we would do well to consider, if not heartily employ this discipline–to embrace the high bar of silence a little more often. As the proverb above says, a little more restraint is wise.
In Matthew 12:36 Christ communicates, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” In light of this admonition, our gift of dialogue has been entrusted to us with accountability, and we would do well to consider that!
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21
Let’s eat more fruit!