Talk, talk, talk! When the mouth engages while the brain is still constructing sentences, troubling words will eventually find their way into speaking. Everyone at sometime errs by talking without thinking. Reactionary moments thrust upon us sentence structures that could’ve used a little more time to develop. Anger, nervousness, fear—there are many emotions that can cause the mouth to engage before the mind has had opportunity to think things through. And while there are many reasons this phenomena takes place, whatever the cause, the use of “many words” will generally come back to trouble the talker.
There are professions in which this danger is inherent. Any one working in Radio is in peril of indiscretion. The other day I heard a broadcaster apologize for a flippant remark said while on-air to a co-worker. These trained specialists make a living from talking and using words—sometimes way too many words. Television has its “Talking Heads.” These too must understand that their profession will eventually teach humility—it’s inevitable. Professors and teachers who constantly lecture eventually will trip up and say something unfortunate. Even the most skillful of politicians will one day discover his/her own words coming back to vex them. The finest of speeches can be spoiled by a moment of spontaneous interjection. People wonder why the teleprompter is the politician’s friend. Fact is, when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable. And the incoherent rambling words of the wisest sage can be the most destructive of talk.
Using many words is one area in which the preacher must be careful and cautious. Any one taking seriously the call of God, speaking before a congregation, must be aware that when using many words, transgression is unavoidable. While I understand the importance of extemporaneous preaching, a clear understanding of topic, using an outline, is always helpful for not speaking too many words and over preaching a point or topic. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks—I get that; I understand what that idea is teaching! So give the mouth a track to run on with a clearly thought out plan. When we read in Proverbs 17, verse 27, “He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding,” I think the author understood the necessity of not “winging it” when talking.
But, let’s not leave the “many words” issue alone with the preacher and walk off saying it’s their problem. Using fewer words to communicate is a good principle for the average Joe, or Josephine to follow. For the person who senses that maybe they talk a little too much at times, the Proverb reminds us that the restraining of lips is something to remember while conversing with others. Wisdom is not determined by the amount of words one uses. In fact, our author of Proverbs indicates just the opposite when writing, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. (Proverbs 17:27-28; NAS)” Apparently, one can rarely talk too little. And, if more knowledge is required of your experiences, the listener always has the option of asking for more on a given subject. The point of Proverbs 10:19 is that, in the end, an over abundance of words will cause great grief, but a wise man learns to control his talk.
J. Robert Hanson
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