The words we speak bear witness to what is going on inside us. Scripture draws a clear connection between wisdom and restraining our rhetoric:
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)
Far too often we have far too much to say about nothing. Yet the Bible makes it clear that the wise are careful about how much they speak. They understand that in God’s economy we are to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
The Bible also tells us that our reverence for the Almighty can be linked to our language, as we read in these words from the Wise Preacher:
God is in heaven and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
This is wonderful counsel, especially when God calls us to bring comfort to others when they are in trying circumstances. Job suffered devastating loss: his health, his wealth, and all ten of his children were taken in one day. When his three friends showed up to comfort him, not a word was spoken between them.
No one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:13)
This went on for an entire week. Job’s three friends comforted him with what I call “the ministry of the presence.” They were simply present for their friend. And everything was fine until they opened their mouths and began to speak on the eighth day. Silence truly was golden for grief-stricken Job. Years in ministry have taught me that silence is often the best source of sympathy for the sorrowful and the suffering.
Let’s close with a poem from an anonymous author that speaks powerfully about the witness of our words:
A wise old owl sat in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?
So . . . what has the witness of your words been saying lately? May we all have the wisdom to speak only when we can improve upon the silence!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!