The book of Proverbs has much to say about what we say, both good, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24); and bad, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating” (Proverbs 18:8). Its best advice–handle your words with care. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27). Author George Eliot counseled, “Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact”; and my dad frequently advised, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Good advice all.
“Better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt,” has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Socrates, and many others, but Proverbs said it first, “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues” (Proverbs 17:28). Proverbs makes it clear that intelligence and wisdom are not at all the same, and frequently in opposition; no more so than when we use our words. Our intelligence is oft displayed in what we say; our wisdom in what we don’t.
Our Wonderful God, when You speak, amazing things happen. The world was created. You spoke the Law that gives us life. And Jesus, the epitome of Your Word, walked on earth. You still speak; may I listen. More than that, may I obey. May I love Your Word.
God, may I also be one who speaks in a way that reflects well on You. May I always seek to bring You glory in all I do, and in all I say, and often enough, in what I don’t say. May my words be measured, and may they be good.