Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

In Other Words. . . The Evidence of Wisdom is a Restrained Tongue

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 13 January 2009

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
~ Mother Teresa

How many times have you been in a conversation with a person who has already made their point but just won't let it go? Worse yet, are you that person?

And did you notice at all during the Oh-I'm-so-glad-it's-over 2008 Presidential Election how the two candidates pretty much reiterated the same points over and over and over and over. . . -- refuting the other's talking points in the exact same manner as the last time they had the opportunity? Arghhh!

I think we all wish this was an isolated situation in today's society -- you know -- pandering politicians with more words than wisdom. . . and long-winded, loquacious friends. Don't be so quick to roll your own eyes. The problem extends far beyond presidential politics and girlfriends that never shut-up!

Our society is addicted to repetition in all its forms. We repeat for various purposes -- to respond to what we consider to be an unwarranted attack or unfair characterization, to break an awkward silence, to convince an authority figure to give us what we want -- maybe we just like the sound of our voice. Perhaps we're just plain selfish.

We'd rather fill the air with an idea that we've repeated a hundred times before than let others have the last word. Admit it. You've probably done it. I know have!

Oh yes -- repetition does works. It's the foundation for much of early childhood education and the theory extends throughout our lives. Practice makes perfect. (Repetition certainly works with puppy training!!) And if you watch television at all, you know that repetition is the bedrock of product advertisement. But there is a reason why those commercials for the homeopathic headache remedy HeadOn®, which repeatedly urge the viewer to apply the product "directly to the forehead," are so annoying. Repetition can really gets on one's nerves! No?

But what about the age-old art of Conversation? Should repetition be our guide here? We have established that repetition is annoying. Ask yourself this: "Do I want to be annoying?" "Do I want my life as a Christian to reflect society's obsession with repetition?" "Or do I want to use wisdom in the art of conversation?" Regardless of the topic of our conversations, we can take great lessons from Mother Teresa's words:

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

One of the greatest problems in this life is the pain we cause to others and the pain others inflict upon us by way of words spoken. A great deal of it is intentional, but the largest amount is caused unintentionally. Selfishness, ignorance, stupidity, thoughtlessness, clumsy witticism, and a thousand other things are the means of wounding and hurting feelings, stinging pride, dampening enthusiasm, and quenching the effort of those around us -- Christians and non-Christians alike.

Whether spoken directly in conversation or indirectly by way of gossip, the words we speak are the most dangerous weapon we possess.

So powerful that the first member of the body to be under the Holy Spirit's control after we experience true Salvation is the tongue. James 3:8 says,

". . . but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

In stark contrast, Proverbs 31:26 says this:

"She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."

And in Proverbs 17:27, we find this:

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered."

So where's the disconnect?

And is it possible that this obsession our society has with verbal repetition has anything to do with the problem of the tongue -- so clearly addressed in God's Word?

We are capable of using the art of conversation to wound with exacting precision and at the same time we read the thoughts in Proverbs without thinking twice of their application to our own life.

Here's a challenge: Practice testing the thoughts and ideas that you want to express in [any] conversation to determine if they are worth saying. As Christians, God's Word always takes precedence over society's consensus and unwritten rule on anything.

When it comes to the art of conversation, the book of Proverbs gives us unquestionalby clear direction and remarkable wisdom. The evidence of this wisdom will always be the restraint of our tongue: Our words will surely be kinder words . . . shorter words . . . and words that echo in the lives of the hearers and -- more importantly -- reflect Christ.

Here's the test:

Always speak truth - Proverbs 6:16,17, 19

Speak few words and speak wisely - Proverbs 10:19, 17:27, 29:11

Good words can make people feel better - Proverbs 12:18, 25; 15:30

Stop quarrels with soft words - Proverbs 15:1

Speak out for justice - Proverbs 31:8,9

Use words sparingly - Proverbs 10:19

Are your words worth listening to - Proverbs 10:20

Do your words nourish and instruct others - Proverbs 10:21

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

This installment of InOtherWords is hosted by Susan on her blog Forever His.


Barbara said...

Excellent post as always. I like the point you make about society's need to repeat things. It's hard to be in the world and not of the world. In terms of sharing the Gospel the message is very simple and we make it so complicated with way too much talking.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Boy, do I get this one. When people repeat things constantly it drives me crazy, yet because others do it, I sometimes find myself doing it to because I think if I don't then they surely will not get my point! :)

Good stuff to ponder here, thanks for sharing.

kalopoieo said...

This most famous book on wisdom was not concluded with platitudes difficult to grasp - You've got to appreciate taht God gave flesh and blood pictures of true excellence and wisdom by describing the ideal wife. Couldn't be more clear as you say.
While I personally think the gossip and needless talk applies EQUALLY to both men and women - your words today ring true for this male reader.
Great post as always, Esthermay.

Laurie Ann said...

I really enjoyed your post. I have found that repetition in conversation stems from some running on high-octane drama. I don't function that way and it does get annoying. I love the checklist at the bottom of your post and will certainly be using that and the Word as a guide for the words I speak from here on out. Great post, Esthermay!

Susan said...

Oh boy, this was incredible. I know I know I keep repeating myself, but each post I read here is AWESOME!(sorry, but it bears repeating!)

What a gifted writer you are!

I had to LOL when you wrote about the "HeadOn" commerical. Just hearing it gives me a headache!

Thanks so much Esthermay for joining us today♥

Andrea said...

ditto. You are a gifted writer and your devotionals always hit me. What? are you eavesdropping on my prayer life? So timely. I told my boys that in 2009 I vow to learn to just Shut Up. This I will print out and read again and again. Great list of scripture. thank you again for touching my heart.


Andrea said...

btw - LOVE HeadOn! Great example of repetitiveness. I do not want to be a HeadOn commercial and I know I am.
"Apply directly to the forehead."
"Apply directly to the forehead."
"Apply directly to the forehead."
"Apply directly to the forehead."
"Apply directly to the forehead."
Can't help myself!

john burreson said...

Besides the wisdom of Proverbs and Mother Theresa, brevity is the soul of wit.

Kate said...

Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I appreciate your writing so much. It bears repeating. drats. That's the lesson, isn't it?
bless you for sharing with us words that always make us think!
Great post

Solace said...

Mr. Burreson and I think alike.
Brevity is the soul of wit and many of the verses in Proverbs agree.
Good thoughts here.

Barb said...

... and that's all I have to say about that...

: )

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