November 13

Proverbs 13:3 3He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

17:27-28 27A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. 28Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Today there seems to be an effort to speak the most words and dominate any conversation. I have often listened to conversations in which two people speak at the same time, as if they were vying for airtime. Does our society consider the silent one to be the wise one? It seems the one who gets his point across the clearest and most convincingly is considered the winner. But does it matter how it seems? Ultimately, for you to come to a correct conclusion, an understanding of God's view is really the important thing.

Do you find yourself falling into our cultural norm of saying too much and then wishing you'd shown more restraint? The proverbs we are considering today teach that guarding our lips is guarding our very life. It is the man of knowledge who shows restraint. One appropriate word can demolish an edifice built by a thousand rash words. Restraint gives you time to consider the validity of what is said and to search out any faults in an argument.

One of my most valuable college classes was a class in rhetoric. Language has a number of patterns that are designed to build a case. Many of them have flaws that are easily pointed out. The Holy Spirit can show them to you if you are listening. If you are trying to speak just to make your point, you will miss that quiet voice of the Spirit. There is nothing wrong with saying nothing and speaking another day after considering the matter. You don't have to win every discussion.

Consider: We have two ears and one mouth. Does that tell us something about the ratio in which they should be used?