When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19
We have all heard the old adage: “Think before you speak.” How many of us actually practice that?
I find myself saying less and less as I get older (and hopefully wiser). I often ask myself, “is it worth saying?” I have come to realize that my opinion isn’t necessarily wanted or even helpful. Sometimes it nearly kills me, but I hold my tongue because I am learning slowly, ever so slowly, that everything that pops into my mind doesn’t have to come out of my mouth. “…people will give account for every careless word they speak,” Matthew 12:36
In addition to sheer quantity – saying too much, there are others times we need to hold our tongues.
Sarcasm “…There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts…” Proverbs 12:18
Gossip “…A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28
Nagging “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand.” Proverbs 27:15-16
Deception “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25
Having to make our point “May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, those who say, ‘With our tongue we will prevail, our lips are with us; who is master over us?’” Psalm 12:3-4
Complaining “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” Philippians 2:14-15
Criticism “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged…” James 5:9
The old adage has value and biblical support: Think before you speak. Is it valuable? Is it worth saying? Will it add to the conversation or subtract? Am I building the other person up or tearing them down? Am I speaking in love or am I speaking with self-love?
Words are powerful. Holding our tongue when appropriate is also powerful.
Yes, “I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 Even hold my tongue.
Diane Hunt is part of the Development and Addiction Recovery teams at America’s Keswick. In addition to being a Biblical Counselor, she is a Women’s speaker for retreats, conferences and events. She is a regular writer for Victory Call and one of the authors of Crossing the Jordan Bible Study. She has been married to her husband John for 30 years. She has 2 adult children, 4 grandchildren, 3 adult step-children with 7 grandchildren making 11 in all. She delights in reading and teaching, but mostly in laughing at the funny things her grandchildren say and do.