PROVERBS 10:19: When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
In today’s scripture, King Solomon provides us a strong warning and sound instruction when it comes to the quantity of our speech and the restraint of our speech. The opening of the verse is the warning – When words are many, transgression is not lacking. The latter part is the instruction– but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Let’s break them down and apply them in our lives. And it is important we get both down in our understanding and living because if we fail to heed the warning and obey the instruction, we are going to build a bad reputation and witness as a Christian.
First, the warning – When words are many, transgression is not lacking. We may paraphrase the King’s wise words; “Be prone to talk a lot; be a person always needing to voice an opinion, always having to put a word into a conversation, and be quick to interrupt another person to weigh-in on an issue, and we are going to sin with our speech.” Pay attention to what Solomon says. Be an excessive talker, and it isn’t if we will sin with our tongue. It is certain we will sin with our tongues. And if we are talkers? Be careful. Be constantly praying, “Lord, put a restraint on my tongue” because talkers easily dominate or “hijack” conversations leading to what Solomon says is inevitable–transgression. To add to this warning in the book of Proverbs is the one from the New Testament book of James-But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8). So, evaluate our conversations, all conversations to see if we are heeding or ignoring the warning. Now the instruction . . .
We go from the warning to the instruction–but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Basically, learn to be more a listener than a talker. That doesn’t mean be silent and unengaged, but it does mean be wise by applying these three things–know what to say, when to say, and how to say it, and that must come from the Lord. Prayer for wisdom in any and all conversations; a wisdom that is not marked by impulsive, emotionally-charged speech that will lead to sin and much regret after the sinful conversation has ended. One more thing about this instruction. We are responsible. We are to restrain our speech. Yes, by God’s power, but He doesn’t restrain our tongues for us. We appropriate His power and then put it into use by restraining our speech.
So, in heeding Solomon’s warnings and following his instruction, there is something Jesus tells us that will help us do both. It is serious and helpful in controlling the quality and quantity of our speech. Think about it as we close out today’s nugget–“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak”(Matthew 12:36)
PRAYER: “Father, put a guard on my mouth that I might not sin against you.”
QUOTE: “Be a person always needing to voice an opinion, add a word in a conversation, and it is inevitable you will sin.”