Taming the Tongue

By Nancy Twigg

Photo by Pexels

Several months back, I wrote an article about how "more" is not always a good thing. As human beings, our natural tendency is to think that if a little is good, more must be better. Usually rather than solving a problem, having more of something (time, space, possessions) brings with it new and unexpected issues to be addressed.

So it is with words. Proverbs 10:19 tells us that "When words are many, sin is not absent…" Often with our own words, we dig deeper and deeper holes for ourselves. More words generally bring more problems and more opportunities to be misunderstood. King Solomon must have known this when he added the admonition: "But he who holds his tongue is wise."

I admire people of few words. The person who chooses his words wisely and doesn't waste them on petty or trivial matters gets my vote of confidence almost every time. I aspire to be someone who says what she means, means what she says, and knows when silence is the most appropriate response.

In an effort to make my words count, I’ve identified some times in which it is usually better to hold my tongue. Maybe you can identify with some of these:
  • When my spouse violates my pet peeve again (Is it really worth nagging? What is accomplished besides making everyone miserable?)
     
  • When a friend or coworker comes to me with the latest version of office or church gossip (If you can't keep the conversation focused on finding a solution, it is better to change the subject altogether.)
     
  • When a well-meaning relative makes a comment that comes across as derogatory (An insult is like a ball being tossed to you: if you refuse to "catch" it [be offended by it], it falls to the ground [and thus doesn't touch or hurt you].)
     
  • When I disagree with my spouse on something that really doesn't matter anyway (If an idea is truly not a good one, the folly of it will usually become self-evident in time. Better to let your partner realize that on his/her own than for you to burst the bubble.)
     
  • When I doubt someone's sincerity, motives, or intentions (If you're suspicious of another, be cautious but keep your opinions to yourself until his or her actions validate your concerns.)
     
  • When a friend asks me for advice but really needs me to listen (A listening ear is the best gift you can possibly give someone who's hurting.)
I confess I don't always do these things as well as I should, but when I do, things go so much smoother in my family and social relationships. In the case of words, less truly is more.