Word Problems - Three Reasons to Talk Less

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When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

—Proverbs 10:19 NASB

I definitely have word problems. You see, I’m full of them, words that is, ready to chatter and share those words plentifully with anyone in hearing distance. Always have been. As if speaking lots of words during the day wasn’t enough, I also talk in my sleep. Have since childhood. When I went to Pioneer Girl camp as a child, I was horrified to learn that the other girls in my cabin secretly stayed awake to be entertained by my nightly sleep talk. Evidently, despite my best efforts, I still have words left over at the end of the day. Yikes. What’s a person to do when words overflow in them? Let’s start with what they should not do.

Proverbs 10:19 warns us that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable” (NASB). That’s a sobering thought. When someone goes on and on and on … sin occurs. Here are some guidelines that might have been learned by *ahem* personal experience.

Do not be a conversation thief. When someone speaks on and on, they wrong others by not listening. They’ve stolen all the airtime. We do not need to fill up every quiet space with our own noise. Sometimes quieter folks take longer to formulate a thought. When we give them no space to share, we injure them. We also lose out on valuable opportunities to hear their thoughts and perspectives.

Do not use those words for tirades or lectures. Too many words often mean that people tune us out. Who wants to hear a ten-minute lecture on why they are wrong? Even if they are children and we are the parent. I spoke too long and too often to my children during their growing up years. I wish I had said what was most important and then been still, giving them time to digest my words. I suspect that much of the time my talking went in one ear and out the other. In the case of correction, less is more. (And that is definitely true in marriage as well.)

Do not speak carelessly. When we simply allow every crazy thought in our head to escape through our lips, we risk hurting people. Ephesians 4:29 cautions us: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (NIV). That’s the essential test and the filter through which we allow words to enter the atmosphere. Are my words helpful? Will they build others up according to their needs? Will they benefit those who are listening? Those are words worth sharing.

Oh, how hard it is to tame the tongue! Oh, but, when I choose to listen, when I speak words that are helpful and kind, when I know the time to bite my tongue and forbid it to speak … then I am using words correctly. And what to do with all those extra words? Blog, of course, and muse on them in your own mind!

Heavenly Father, please help my words to be thoughtful and kind. Remind me when I have said enough, and teach me to show restraint. I want my words to build others up and benefit them, Lord. And I want to hear others’ thoughts and musings as well. Help me to continue to grow in this area. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Originally written by Sharon Gamble of Sweet Selah Ministries. Used with permission.