“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
This proverb can be summarized in just two words. “Shut up!” Or more politely, “Be quiet.” The New Living Translation puts it this way:
Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
How often do we say something to another person and wish that we hadn’t? Once spoken words are hard to take back, especially when they cause hurt. A word spoken in an angry moment can do significant and lasting damage. We need to be careful with our words. Sometimes it is wiser to say nothing.
Build up or tear down?
We can build or destroy both relationships and reputations by the way that we speak and the words that we use. But what about our own reputations? Are we known as being of few words or many? Are we prone to gossip, or are we people others can talk to in confidence? Surely it is better to excel at listening, rather than being known as a person who never stops talking?
Words of life
Jesus was an expert at knowing when to speak and when to listen. He provides an example in John 8 when the Pharisees try to trap Him into saying the wrong thing. Instead of responding immediately Jesus writes in the sand with His finger. When He does reply His words are so powerfully challenging that one by one the Pharisees turn and leave. Jesus knew that His chances of changing the way that the Pharisees thought was slim, so why waste words on them? Instead He chose His words carefully and a difficult situation was defused. The words that Jesus then used to the woman the Pharisees had accused were words of life.
We all have the same opportunity to build up or tear down. Do our words bring trouble, or can we follow the example set by Jesus and offer words of life to a hurting, damaged, and increasingly desperate world?
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