I have a one kid who is a talker. I don’t mean she just likes to talk about her day or what interests her. I mean she can talk about anything and everything with anyone. Most of the time it’s endearing and her questions or comments are not rude. For instance, once when I was picking up the dry cleaning, the clerk was in the process of having some obvious dental work done, so I cringed whenever my social child opened her mouth to speak to her. To my relief, she exclaimed to the clerk, “I love your pretty, painted fingernails!” Whew! That bullet was dodged.
However, while this curious and fun child will never meet a stranger or be lacking in the friend department, she also needs to realize that in a school setting there is a time to speak and a time to be silent (see Ecc. 3:7). That is why my husband and I have been working with her before those school doors open to help her comprehend this spiritual principle if for no other reason than for the love of her sweet teacher. So in my great wisdom, I gave her Psalm 141:3 as her memory verse for the week:
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
We talked about the “Guard” and how he doesn’t want things come out of our mouths that shouldn’t. There is a “secret door” over our lips and we should keep it shut and throw away the key. Good stuff, right?
Well, the Holy Spirit must have wanted me to have my own little pop quiz on this topic because the next morning when I was doing my own Bible reading these verses jumped out at me in Proverbs 17:27-28:
The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,
and discerning if they hold their tongues.
Whoa! Even the fools are thought wise if they keep silent. That’s a pretty powerful statement, especially considering all that the Bible has to say concerning the word “fool.”
Now I don’t think that the Lord wants us all to walk around as mutes, never engaging others in conversation or else this world would be a lonely and boring place. But I do think that He wants us to use our words wisely, and sometimes that means simply keeping our mouths shut. I think about all the times I have talked just to hear myself without really adding anything useful to the conversation. I would have been viewed as wiser had I just kept silent, or at least used my words with restraint.
So, as I embark on my final year of seminary, I believe that this a good word for me as well as my precious, talkative child as we both enter the classroom. It won’t always be easy, but it will make us smart and wise…or at least thought of as so.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips. Remind me that those with knowledge use their words with restraint. Make me a discerning woman, Holy Spirit, and help me to know when to hold my tongue. In Jesus’ name. Amen.