We have a saying around my house that is often said and little applied, “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.” We say that a lot. My family is verbal and loud and I’m not sure where they got it because my wife wasn’t raised that way . . .
After 20 years of marriage I am finally willing to admit that I am much more verbal than my wife. I enjoy speaking. I enjoy crafting sentences, using words, “pun”ishing my family with dad jokes, and even inventing words that only my family would understand.
But I am reminded that with the use of words comes great responsibility. And I have found increasingly in my life that the proverb stands true, that “where words are many sin is not absent, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19) It is very easy to fall into bad habits with words. Whether it is being critical, using a harsh tone, or even just generally complaining the heart wants to communicate its contents through the expression of words.
I went through a phase where I actually thought I was just being authentic to express what was in my heart. If I am angry am I not being fake or inauthentic or even DISHONEST if I don’t express it!? But the reality is, to not give voice to complaint which tears others down, is not dishonest but the correct word to apply is PRUDENT. It is a wise and measured individual who is able to bring the right words at the right time. But it is a prudent person who knows when NOT to bring a word.
I believe we all are aware of the power of our words. But I was reminded this week of the power that we have in silence. I can exercise the Godly discipline of prudence and wisdom in what I choose not to say. On a spectrum from indulgence to restraint, my lips lean toward the indulgent side. I am working to apply the family statement more often, “if I don’t have anything good to say, say nothing” . . . And I plan to say that a lot . . .