When words are many, transgression (sin) is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (wise). Proverbs 10:19 ESV (NKJV)
“Restrain: to prevent from doing, exhibiting, or expressing something; to limit, restrict, or keep under control; to moderate or limit the force, effect, development, or full exercise of; to deprive liberty”[i]
On the one hand, there are times we need to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Simply be silent. Not moping or sulking, but silent. Restraint is a good word because it implies effort, choice, and self-control. Our inclination may be to speak our mind, make our point, share our thoughts, or just tell it like it is, when restraint is the Christ-like choice. When words are many, sin is not lacking…
If we were able to see beyond the lips that lack restraint we would see an impure, self-seeking, self-centered, proud heart. “What I think is important, funny or right and others need to hear it.” When words are many, sin is not lacking…
I need this reminder today, and tomorrow and the next day, numerous times a day.
On the other hand, there are times we need to speak up and not be silent. We need to avoid ill-chosen restraint. When we have it within our power to encourage, edify, honor, tell the truth, seek forgiveness, grant forgiveness or testify of God’s work in our lives, sometimes we may resist doing so. In other words, we have erroneously chosen (for whatever reason) to restrain the good we can do with our lips. Again, if we were able to see beyond the lips that restrain good, we would see an impure, self-seeking, self-centered, proud heart. “I don’t want to encourage, honor or forgive her, she doesn’t deserve it.”
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
I am guilty on both counts. I have failed to restrain my lips when I should have remained silent, and I have chosen to restrain my lips when I should have spoken up.
Stop and consider. Is this true of you also?
I am really being challenged by the Lord to consider my words and to discern the restraint of my lips.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalm 141:3
Would you like to join me in this journey?
Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.