Pondering the Principles of Proverbs
How do we know what "too much" is?
Is it "too much" simply because I am tired of listening?
Is it "too much" because I don't like the subject matter?
Is it "too much" because I can't get a word in?
How much is "too much?"
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules governing how much talking one is allowed before "crossing the line."
If you look closely at this verse, however, you will see that there is a "rule" given. By "rule" I mean principle or guideline.
The principle is simple: restraint.
"But, if it comes into my mind, I've got to say it, or I'll forget it."
Will the world end if you forget it? Will time stop if you don't say it?
The proverb states that wisdom is exercised and manifest through the restraint of speech.
Yet, how many people are still stuck at the middle-school level of having to prove they are "smart" by having a comment or two (or 2,000) about everything that is going on. I've become convinced that this is not a conscious exercise on their part, but simply a habit they developed that they've never questioned.
I was that way growing up. Consequently, my friends were few, and those that I had didn't want to spend much time with me. I was what is commonly referred to as a "know-it-all." My mantra was, "Of course I'm right. I'm always right. If you don't believe me, just ask me."
When I gave my life to the Lord, I began to learn about the necessity of renewing my mind (Rom. 12:2). I became an insatiable learner. It occurred to me one day that I already know what I know. I learn very little when I'm talking. I began the practice of holding my speech so as to better hear what others had to say.
This principle of "transgression of speech" is beautifully portrayed in this minute-and-a-half scene from The Godfather.
How do we "transgress" when we are guilty of too much talk?
- Constant talking and interrupting another dishonors yourself and the other(s) in a conversation. It shows that you still believe that everything is all about you. By doing so, you are not serving nor giving to the other(s) in the conversation. You are not allowing them the opportunity to contribute or to show themselves valuable.
- Always having the most to say lessens your value in the eyes of the the other(s). The sound of your voice can become just so much "white noise." This phenomenon is common in schools and households where there are always "threats" of dire consequences, but nothing is ever done--or eventually done in anger.
- Because of the two mentioned above, all credibility will eventually be sacrificed. This is similar to "The Boy Who Cried 'Wolf!'" There came a time when no one believed him when he had something truly important to say.
- Also, it is next to impossible to speak a lot about everything and not eventually end up with "idle words" that have no meaning. Jesus said we will be judged for those idle words. Of course, no one who is guilty of this ever believes their words are id
However, I will simply refer the reader to one other verse of scripture from the New Testament that says essentially the same thing as this proverb: James 1:26.
What can be done? How do I learn to control such an unruly thing that has such a habit of just running wild?
Decide today that this is something you need to change in your life. Ask the Lord for help. You will be given plenty of opportunities to exercise the discipline of restraint. Don't give up. You've built up a lifetime habit of letting your tongue hang loose. Changing that habit will take a lot of time. There will likely be many stumblings along the way.
People may even think you are acting strange as you consciously exercise toward a new discipline. Ask them to help you by holding you accountable for what you say.
The new you that will emerge as a result will be worth the price.
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