Wise parents (and speech coaches) will often counsel others to “think before they speak”. When I just blurt out whatever comes to our mind, the result is often a mess that I regret. A key part of thinking ahead about my words is that it can result in something more concise and meaningful, rather than just blathering while I try to think through what I am saying. (This is also why I write, where I can revise and refine before publishing!)
Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, wrote the following proverb, which confirms that fewer words are generally better:
Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
Proverbs 10:19 NLT
The other day at work, there was a template document that needed to be filled out for a project. In its current state, it ran to 26 pages! The delivery manager asked how long it would take the project manager and me to fill it out. Having seen that much of the document was boilerplate (and didn’t need to be updated), I said that I could probably update it in a day or two. “After all”, I said, “some of my e-mails are 26 pages long”, and got a good laugh out of my colleagues.
There’s another bit of wisdom that was written by David (Solomon’s father):
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
Psalms 139:4 NLT
What happens if we consider both of these statements at the same time? If God knows what we are going to say before we speak (or type) it, shouldn’t we consider more carefully what those words will be?
God knows not only what we will say (or write), but also the consequences. I believe that He gives us free will, and that He doesn’t compel us to say one thing or another (or to say nothing at all), like puppets. However, seeing the end of time from the beginning (when He created everything), He already knows the next words that you and I are each going to say. If our goal is to honor and please Him, this reminder can inspire us to stave off the negative consequences of talking too much, or of saying things that we know don’t show respect to God.
Our goal should be to speak and write words that honor God, and that are consistent with His guidance. When that becomes difficult, though, perhaps we would all do well (starting with me) to live in the understanding that God already knows what we are going to say, and to use that as motivation to choose those words – as well as any strategic silence – very carefully.
May our words be those that God gives us, and be a blessing:
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.