Do you talk too much? I know I do. When in a conversation, I’m often not listening to the other person, but thinking of what I’m going to say next. And if the one I’m talking to doesn’t have much to say, I can nervously keep rambling to fill any awkward silence.
The Bible book of Proverbs is full of inspired advice to help us back down our word count. We read, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Prov. 10:19a); meaning, the more we talk, eventually we’re going to say something we shouldn’t. Maybe trying to be funny, you say something off-color. Or you exaggerate (lie) about some details. Or one I’ve been thinking about lately: others are criticizing a mutual friend and you join in the gossip. For some reason we feel like we’re building ourselves up when we’re putting someone else down.
Actually, the Bible tells us it’s wiser to be quieter. For example, “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent” (Prov. 11:12). We all know where our friends have slipped up, but that doesn’t mean we need to tell all we know. Because, “whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Prov. 11:13). Rather than trying to impress people with our knowledge, it’s usually better to pipe down, as “even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise” (Prov. 17:27).
Once I went to a jewelry store and asked about a pearl necklace. There were some in the display case, but the jeweler kept the best strings of pearls in the vault. Likewise, instead of saying everything we think, we should always keep back some words for another time. Certainly, “the one who restrains his words is wise” (Prov. 10:19b).