July 11, 2002 By Ed Wrather
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of wisdom. - Proverbs 10:19-21 NKJV.
James Smith had an irritating habit - he talked incessantly. He talked all the time; continually, even if no one was listening, James was still talking. For those of us working with him on an oilfield crew (In 1975), it was almost torture at times to hear the constant words flowing from the mouth of Mr. Smith. It was especially irritating when we were driving from one long job to another, and wanted to try to sleep, or at least rest a little before we arrived at the new location. On one of those drives, James was keeping us awake again, and in a two-hour period the longest break in the words from James was for a brief 30 seconds (We timed it.).
The crew members had had it, and one morning James received a surprise he was not expecting. Several crew members tackled James, and with a large roll of gray tape (duct tape) taped his hands, feet and mouth. They released James a few minutes later, but he had gotten the point, and was much more careful about the words he spoke in the future. It was a terribly unchristian (and illegal) thing for any friend to do, or for anyone to do to anyone; and James if you read this I do apologize, and hope and pray all is well in your life.
The tongue as we are told in the Book of James is a fire (James 3:6). Because the tongue is so powerful, we must be very careful what we say and how we say it. What may sound like beautiful music to our ears may be the scratching of fingernails on a blackboard to someone else. Here are some things to consider before speaking. First, consider not saying anything. Second, you do not have to tell everything you know. Solomon says in Proverbs 17:27-28, He who has knowledge spares his words and Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace. Third, you do not have to repeat everything you hear (aka gossip). Solomon says in Proverbs 16:28, A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends. He also says in Proverbs 17:9, He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. More than a few lives and careers have been destroyed by gossip. Fourth, consider carefully what you say before you say it. Solomon says in Proverbs 18:13, He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. Jumping to the wrong conclusion, and allowing our mouths to share our conclusion with the world can cause much pain.
Here are some additional words of wisdom from Solomon about our speech: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness (Proverbs 15:1-2). He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3). Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Remember that there is the power of life and death in the words we say. Let us not just talk, but instead speak words of life.