Controlling the Tongue (Part 2)

The next tip that the Bible gives us in controlling our speech is to know when to keep silent.

“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

“He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace” (Proverbs 11:12).

“A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness” (Proverbs 12:23).

“Even a fool when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28).

“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Proverbs 29:11).

Keeping silent instead of having a constant flow of communication from one’s mouth is wise according to the Scriptures.  We need to be careful of thinking that our words are so important that everyone needs to hear our opinion.  As a preacher of the Gospel, I can fall into this trap of thinking that my words can change a life.  God uses human instruments, but the power of change is in God’s Words not in man’s words.  We also need to understand that the more one speaks the more chance there is of sin.  This does not mean that I should be rude to my friends, teachers, or other authority and never speak to them because I am trying not to sin.  Our problem is not normally too much kindness in our words, but too much frivolity, too much criticism, or too much self.  What happens when one keeps silent when he is supposed to?  The Bible has answers for this question also.  Look at the following verses:

“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13:3).

“In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them” (Proverbs 14:3).

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23).

Another tip from the Bible is not to speak before you know the story.

“He that answereth a matter before it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).

“Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 29:20).

It is in man’s nature to think that he knows more than he does.  We need to be careful of meddling in things that are not our business.  We also need to be careful of thinking that we know details of everything.  We may not know the whole story.  It also can be possible that someone else may know more than we know.

Finally, make sure that we know what good language is when we do start to speak.  Controlling our speech comes also with teaching our mouths appropriate speech.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).  In this passage, Paul is emphasizing the positive over the negative. The Greek word translated corrupt  means “rotten” or “foul.”  It originally referred to rotten fruit and vegetables.  Being like Christ means we don’t use foul, dirty language.  For some reason, many people today think it is macho or liberating to use vulgar humor, dirty jokes, and foul language; but this kind of talk has no place in the life of a Christian.  Paul then says that our language should be only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs—that it may benefit those who listen.  This is reminiscent of his words to the Colossians:  “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

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