Monday, April 19, 2010

Open Mouth Insert Foot

Open Mouth Insert Foot
April 5, 2010
Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

Your mother probably said to you several times, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." If she didn't tell you this, she should have. It is good advice and something everyone should live by, regardless of age. I've noticed from watching older Christians that they seem to understand this. There are many gray haired individuals who don't multiply their words, but when they do speak it is valuable. They seem to only speak when necessary and when they utter a word, wisdom usually follows. I know I stop and listen, hopefully heeding what they have to say. They probably have learned this lesson the hard way, getting caught by their words, putting their foot in their mouth many times. There clearly is an inverse correlation between the amount of time a person spends speaking and the amount of his/her wisdom. In other words, if you talk too much, you might be a fool.

While I don't doubt you may think you have something important to say, it probably is only valuable to you and your mirror. This isn't to say that everything out of your mouth is foolish or unwise, but I doubt that every word is weighed out carefully before the Lord. Have you ever spoken before you truly thought about what you were going to say? I know I have. I find that many of the difficulties I have in my life are because I opened my mouth. I'm sure my wife would agree. How much heartache could I have been saved in my life and my marriage, if I had just kept my mouth shut? How much heartache could have been saved in your life if you had just kept your mouth shut? The brother of Jesus comments on a person's words in James 3:2. He says that, "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." His comment is about when the person is actually speaking, not when the person is staying silent, suggesting that unless you're perfect, you probably should not speak as often. Since I have never met a perfect person, and not being perfect myself, my advice is simple: keep your mouth shut.

While the phrase, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," is not found directly in scripture, it is backed by many different arguments in the Bible. In fact, going through the Bible using James' argument about finding the perfect person, the most righteous man, as touted by God, was Job. Job opened his mouth and got rebuked by both the Holy Spirit and God. They respectively said of Job, "without knowledge he multiplies words," and that he "darkens my counsel with words without knowledge." While I might have maybe two or three valuable things to say, I never want to be rebuked by God for opening my mouth.

Proverbs 10:19 says, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." You and I know what can happen when we open our mouths, but we seldom think about what will happen if we keep it shut. The second part of the verse says, ". . . but he who holds his tongue is wise." Is he a wise man and so he keeps his mouth shut or is he wise because he keeps his mouth shut? I think it is the latter; we are wise when we keep our tongue bridled inside our mouth. It takes lots of practice to keep your mouth shut; a good way to do that is through fasting. Many people consider fasting a time of abstaining from food, but I think fasting should take on many forms, especially abstaining from speaking. Instead of fasting one or two meals a month, try fasting from speaking for 6 hours; it's harder than not eating. (That would also include e-mailing and texting). It will be good practice for making you a little wiser. If anything, it will keep you out of trouble.

1. What have you said lately that should have been kept to yourself?
2. How can you hold your tongue the next time you are tempted to speak out?
3. Challenge: fast from talking, texting, or e-mailing for six hours straight this week (it doesn't count if you're sleeping).

Add. Scriptures for Study: Job 35:16, Job 38:2, Ps 19:14, Ps 64:3, Ps 106:33, Proverbs 6:2, Proverbs 16:21 & 24, Ecc 5:2, Ecc 10:20, Ecc 12:11, James 3:1-3

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