Talking too much will get you into trouble, while choosing your words carefully will improve your relationships with others and protect you from sin. This is a consistent truth found in Proverbs, the gospels, the New Testament letters, and really the whole Bible. As young men and women, a common temptation is running your mouth too much. People who talk a lot often end up hurting others with their words. When in doubt, stay quiet. It’s better to listen to others more than you try to tell them what’s on your mind. You don’t learn by talking, but by listening. This is what today’s passage, which connects the end of Proverbs 17 with the beginning of Proverbs 18, is teaching us. You will rarely regret not saying something, but chances are that there have been many times when you said something to a friend or family member that you later regretted deeply, either immediately or sometime when you thought back on the conversation. Your mouth is a spring that can either pour forth encouragement and praise or bitterness and meanness. Start learning now to control your tongue. God will help you to “let your words be few” if you sincerely ask Him to.
I can speak from experience on this issue. As someone who likes to talk a lot, I know that I have done great damage to others and myself with my words. This is a sin issue for me that I need God’s help with every day. When I am out fellowship with the Lord, I immediately notice more harshness and volume (more total words and more loudness, too) in my talking. But when heart is right before God, I experience the power of the His Spirit giving me control over what I am saying. If you struggle with taming the tongue, there is hope for you. But you have to want to beat this sin – it won’t just happen. You have to hate your ugly words enough to want to change, and then call out to Jesus each day for His strength in winning the battle.
The Text (Proverbs 17:27-18:4)
17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
18:1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.
2 A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart.
3 When the wicked comes, contempt comes also; And with dishonor comes reproach.
4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.
Questions to Think About
- Are you known as a person who talks a lot or someone who is more quiet? Explain.
- Can you think of some things that you said to friends last school year that you wished you didn’t? You can’t go back in time to change your past (and if you could, no one else would know that you did anyways…that’s how time travel works), but you can change your future. If you start learning this summer how to let God tame your tongue, then next school year you can expect fewer regrettable conversations.
- Are you getting better at listening to others instead of just wanting to say what’s on your mind? How can becoming a better listener improve your relationships with family and friends?