Summary: Bridling of the tongue is one of the greatest problems that we face as a Christian.
by Pastor Jim May
The ability to speak is a wonderful thing, but how we use that ability can often make a tremendous difference in both our own life and the lives of others. Everywhere you turn there are voices. Some are voices of encouragement, some are destructive, and some are words of love and compassion, while others are words of hate and disdain. Words are a powerful force and the influence that our words can have necessitate our careful use of words.
Words are used to reveal what is really in your heart. Words are a perfect indicator of your character. The words you speak, the things you talk about, and the manner in which you say them will ultimately create the image of who you are and what you are all about to everyone around you. When you think of it that way, what you say and how you say it are incredibly important.
Our problem is that we don’t always control our words. Our manner of speech often comes back to haunt us. How many times do we show symptoms of “hoof and mouth disease”? I can’t tell you the number of times that I have opened my mount and inserted my foot, and I know, from first hand experience, that some of you have done the same thing.
Proverbs 17:27-28, "He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding."
Now that’s a switch from the way we normally thing isn’t it? This scripture is telling us that the more knowledge we have, the less we should try to let everyone know just how much we know. A wise man, knowledgeable in any specific subject, will learn that it’s just not wise to be a “know-it-all” even if he does know it all. Why is that so? It is so because most of the time, those who are carrying on a conversation don’t really care how much you know, and they aren’t interested in learning all of the facts. They just want to have a conversation and leave it at that. Within a few minutes of the conversation, most of what was said will be quickly forgotten anyway, and all of the wisdom that you could have given will have meant nothing in the end.
There’s an old poem that goes like this:
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why can’t we all be like the wise old bird?
A wise man or woman will learn that the best thing to do in so many instances when they feel the urge to interrupt or butt in to a conversation is to say nothing. It is amazing how much more we learn by simply listening, but listening is a lost art. Most of the time all you see is talking. It doesn’t matter how many people are around, all of them are talking at the same time. Everyone is speaking, nobody is listening, and then we all walk away thinking that we made a difference but in reality we all walk away without having accomplished much of anything because we all heard only what we said to them.
How many of you know that there is a difference in the speech patterns of men and of women? I’m sure you have heard the difference many times but let me give you one example.
This conversation concerns a haircut: First I’ll give you the women’s version.
Woman2: Oh! You got a haircut! That’s so cute!
Woman1: Do you think so? I wasn’t sure when she gave me the mirror. I mean, you don’t think it’s too fluffy looking?
Woman2: Oh God no! No, it’s perfect. I’d love to get my hair cut like that, but I think my face is too wide. I’m pretty much stuck with this stuff I think.
Woman1: Are you serious? I think your face is adorable. And you could easily get one of those layer cuts - that would look so cute I think. I was actually going to do that except that I was afraid it would accent my long neck.
Woman2: Oh - that’s funny! I would love to have your neck! Anything to take attention away from this two-by-four I have for a shoulder line.
Woman1: Are you kidding? I know girls that would love to have your shoulders. Everything drapes so well on you. I mean, look at my arms - see how short they are? If I had your shoulders I could get clothes to fit me so much easier.