Less is more

talk too much

Sometimes, we just need the reminder.

As a writer, you are almost always looking for something to say. “The more words the better,” you think to yourself.

Someone very dear to me is actually in the process of finishing her first book, and between the constraints of time and the demands of creating more copy, words have certainly been at a premium.

Even for myself, in trying to meet my “one blog per month” quota, there are times when I am simply reaching for something to say. It does not always happen that way, but so was the case today.

I think we all have experienced times in our lives where we are reaching for words. The reasons and social situations may vary, but we typically just feel the need to say something.

While I still feel inclined to meet my deadline, as a means of fulfilling a stewardship, I felt encouraged this morning to not have to say much. Even aside from writing, however, Scripture admonishes us all to shrug off the pressure (self-imposed or otherwise) of forcing words out of our mouths.

James writes in a familiar passage, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (1:19). In the interactions that we experience on a day-to-day basis, there is no need to feel the pressure of speaking. Even when Jesus was sending out the Twelve to bear witness to the kingdom in his name, he said to them, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20). 

As we yield our lives more and more to the Holy Spirit, the angst of having the “right” answer lifts from hearts. We can walk in freedom, trusting that the Spirit will be our guide and offer his counsel when needed. Like James emphasizes in his epistle, we are to seek the wisdom that comes from above (1:5, 3:13-18), knowing that “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).

Our unbelief in asking for this wisdom (James 1:6-8), however, is typically what leads us to the place of being anxious about our words. Fittingly, it is in these instances where our words go from being “choice” to “multiplied”; we feel the need to have much to say because we’re not sure what to say.

Scripture cautions us against multiplying our words. Proverbs 10:19 reads, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” The New Living Translation renders it this way: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”

Even in the case of our most important relationship, the one we have with God, we probably say more than we should. Ecclesiastes 5:2 exhorts, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

Granted, based on Christ’s merit, we are able to approach our God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12). Jesus says, though, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8). 

Long prayers are not more effective prayers. In fact, the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples is less than 70 words! Our heart’s cry should echo the words of the psalmist David, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Whether you are speaking to a relative, friend, co-worker or God himself, know that there is no pressure. If we are really following the advice of James, we should be cultivating the practice of being good listeners — especially when it comes to God.

Walk in the freedom and confidence of Christ today. He truly gives wisdom to those who ask, and desires that we would not come to him with a prepared script, but with a prepared heart.


~ by christianballenger on February 28, 2015.

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