Vernacular Reflections

December 15th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 10: 19 (NLT)

19 Too much talk leads to sin.
      Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

When Laura and I first became interested in each other, I had a feeling that it was going to be more than just a shallow dating relationship.  After our first date, I called my dad and woke up him just to let him know that I had just had the best date of my life.  I bet that call sounded funny from his end.  

It’s amazing to me how our relationship took off in such a short amount of time.  Within a few weeks of meeting, we were talking every day on the phone.  We made plans to see each other.  We met each other’s families.  But none of this would have been possible without some key words.  I remember the night of our first date when Laura called my dorm room.  She informed me that she had finished her finals and just so happened to be home already.  A silence ensued.  You see, her hometown was only about a half-hour or so from my dorm.  A choice lay before me.  Before I remember engaging my brain, my mouth uttered the wonderfully fateful words that invited her to dinner with me.  Without asking her, it wouldn’t have happened.

A few months into the relationship, we were trying to take it slowly as we had been advised by all of those with wisdom in our lives.  I was on a road trip doing a ministry event in West Tennessee and we were talking on the phone.  The conversation was light and full of simple niceties; nothing serious.  As we began our goodbyes to hang up, she said, “Okay, love you.”  The words slipped out like they were no big deal.

I paused to manage the butterflies within me and then replied as non-chalantly as possible, “Love you, too.” Then, we hung up the phone.  No more than thirty seconds passed before she called back in an absolute panic. Tearfully, she apologized profusely for saying the “L” word so early.  She didn’t mean to say it, it just came out because that’s what you say when you get off the phone with someone you’re close to.  She wasn’t trying to break the “I love you” plane too early and she was terrified that I would be offended or freaked out by her statement.  The whole thing was actually quite amusing to me.

But in all seriousness, I had a choice to make.  Knowing in my heart that she was the one, I decided that I wouldn’t take the opportunity to retract my “return I love you.”  I told her that if I had not meant it, I wouldn’t have said it.  From then on out, “I love you” was a normal thing for us.  Again, a monumental moment in our lives was defined by words.

Time passed and our relationship flourished.  The moment came when my heart was certain that she was the one I wanted to marry.  Again, though, words would be necessary . . . and not just to her, either . . . her father would have to come first.  I called her dad and awkwardly invited him to lunch; I’m sure he had his suspicions.  We sat down at a little country restaurant and made small talk for what seemed like hours.  It was one of the only times in my life that I lost my appetite. 

But that key moment would not have amounted to anything if I had not bellied up and muttered those nerve-racking words: “I would like your blessing to marry your daughter.”  I could have just sat there and stared at him intently without actually asking, hoping that he would just magically understand what I wanted.  Trust me, it wasn’t going to happen without the proper words being spoken.  

In like manner, I could have bowed on one knee and produced a five-caret diamond ring, but without actually saying, “Will you marry me?”, she could not be sure of my intentions . . . although I’m sure she would have taken the ring.  There are some things that cannot not happen without words.  Job interviews.  Requests to turn on gas pumps. Prayer.  They all require that we use our most important communication tool in order to convey information.  In this respect, words are the most powerful determinant of life.  One need not be verbose or talented at speaking to adequately communicate; we all do it everyday.  Besides those who may struggle with speech impediments of physical and mental challenges, language is the essential cultural medium of communication.

Maybe that’s why the Bible is so adamant about guarding our lips.  This passage states that, “Too much talk leads to sin . . . ”  Why is this true?  Because, as we have seen, words have immense power.  Like anything powerful, we must learn when to use them; maybe even more important is the wisdom to know when not to use them.

Talk is good, but too much of it can lead us to places we don’t want to go.  Oh man, I sure wish I had this one down!  I can’t even begin to recount how many times in my life that I could have avoided trouble if I just would have been “sensible and (kept my) mouth shut.”  Gossip and slander cannot occur if one is not speaking.  Words create the opportunity for these negative little weeds to grow and thrive.  Arguments that destroy relationships have no fuel to their fire if words are not used.  Words are the highway that lead us to these destinations.

Just like all those times in my relationship with Laura that words were necessary for happiness; there have been many, many more times that keeping my mouth shut was equally as necessary.  I’m still working on it, but I can at least acknowledge the truth of this passage: words are important, so use them sparingly and know when not to use them at all.

The possibilities are endless for those who know how to control their mouths.  I hope to become one of those self-controlled people someday.


~ by johndriver on December 15, 2008.

One Response to “Vernacular Reflections”

  1. Proverbs 10:19 is such a simple verse. “Keep your mouth shut.” I tend to struggle with this type of self-control. It would make things much easier to know when or when not to say something, especially when not to say something. I just need to be more aware of what I’m saying. God please help me to be attentive when I speak, and to really know if it is something you would say or not.

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