Going Deeper with the Message:
With Words, Less is More
by: Ben Biles
The overall impression from the book of Proverbs when it comes to speaking with wisdom is simply to talk less. Take Proverbs 10:19 for example: “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise.” The idea is that when we become emotionally charged, we react by speaking impulsively. Think of a time you were insulted or angered. What were your reactionary words? My guess is that they weren’t the best fit for the situation. In Proverbs, we come to understand that someone who can restrain his or her impulsive words displays wisdom.
This idea of talking less might seem counter-cultural to us because we live in a society in which conversation and discussion have become competitive at times. Think of a corporate board meeting. The person who says the most, makes the most persuasive points, or talks the loudest or longest is the person who wins. Aren’t the people who talk more the same ones we see rise to power? Sure, we’ve seen “power talkers” use words to get ahead fast, but we’ve seen countless examples of them run into trouble with what they say and experience the backlash from their community.
Proverbs is after a different kind of success. It displays the richness of gaining wisdom and how wisdom makes one successful in all areas of life. If we want to speak with wisdom, we need to learn to restrain our speech. Speaking less make you a better listener, allowing you the time to absorb all the relevant information and decide on what to say. It will also give you the opportunity to think over and deliver wise words when it matters the most or when it has the biggest impact. This manner of speaking gains respect and will lead to people reaching out for advice and wisdom. When it comes to speaking, the wisdom of Proverbs suggests that less is more.
Living out the Message:
Reflections of Character
Last Sunday, Pastor Josh encouraged us to speak life to everyone, drawing from Proverbs 18:21 which says, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” He went on to say that speaking life specifically means speaking words of love, affirmation, gratitude, and healing. When we make the effort to say “I love you” or “I’m proud of you,” these encouraging words give people life. They build people up and lead to better and deeper relationships.
Words are simply reflections of our hearts. They show the world around us what we’re thinking and feeling. They outwardly display our inward character. Look at the way Jesus speaks throughout the Gospels. He is always intentional, always on target, and always purposeful in what he says. He never says anything out of line with his own character. With truth and grace, he speaks life to all the people he meets and thereby shows us the character and love of God.
When it comes to our own lives, we must understand that our words reflect our character. Loving words come from a loving heart. Words of gratitude come from a thankful heart. In Luke 6, Jesus tells us, “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Luke 6:43-45). If we want to be people that speak life, then we must work on our own character first. We must first become loving, grateful, affirming people, then these words will flow naturally out of overflow of our character.
This week, repeatedly ask yourself this question after personal interactions: “How did my words reflect my character?”