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It is important that we remember that Jesus said, "for every idle word (thoughtless, profitless word) men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment."
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver. 
(Prov. 10:20)

Reticence: an intriguing word. Within it resides a remarkable mystery – an entrance into a world largely concealed and unknown in our modern world.

According to the Scriptures, the practice of reticence throughout our entire life is of great importance. More than merely an element of grammar, reticence is a concept: the life-style of speaking choice words.

Proverbs 10.19-20 NASB tells us that “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable. But he who restrains his lips is wise. “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver…” (Prov. 10:20). Another translation of that verse says that the righteous are “restrained in speech”.

Being restrained, or choiceful in our words should be a matter of importance for every believer. As mentioned in the preceding verses, when many words are present, transgression is unavoidable.

The Apostle James wrote: “My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV).

This instruction to be quick to listen has two applications: First, we should endeavour to be good listeners to those we have contact with (versus focusing on what we want to say); secondly, we should be well-developed in listening to our self.

A person who runs at the mouth all the time doesn’t really listen to themselves and to what they are saying. Painfully, Proverbs calls that kind of person a fool, and their words are defined as folly. But if we will listen to our self, if we will begin monitoring our own thoughts and words before we speak them, then we will walk as the wise and escape trouble. “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles”(Prov. 21:23 NASB).

Reticent is a Latin word, meaning to be silent or reserved in speech; restrained in expression, presentation, or appearance.

Certainly we were not created to never utter a word. We were made to be a speaking spirit like God is. However, our words are to be carefully and specifically chosen (just as His are).

The art of reticence is to restrain your words and not to tell all that you know. A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and he who is cool in spirit is a man of understanding (Prov. 17:27 NIV, NASB).

We can accumulate a lot of knowledge (good and bad), but that does not mean that we have to tell all that we know. It is the person of understanding that will know what to speak and what to refrain from speaking in every situation. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable (Prov. 10.32 NKJV).

Reticence is more than speaking – it involves being choiceful in our thoughts as well, taking the time to weigh and evaluate every thought before we speak. It is actually learning to live from the inside, out.

There can be a multitude of words going on inside of us – but the more we learn to evaluate and sift through those thoughts, disregarding the ones that are not really as important or worthwhile, then when we do open our mouth, we will speak only what would be of the most value to our listeners. And we will waste a lot less time on idle talk.

It is important that we remember that Jesus said, “for every idle word (thoughtless, profitless word) men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12.36-37 NKJV).

When we speak wrong, profitless, thoughtless words, yes (thank God) we can repent and be forgiven – but it is far better to not even speak those words in the first place.

We should never allow anything or anyone to pressure us to speak hastily. Proverbs 29.20 says, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

It is not enough to just live each moment for God’s glory – we must live every second honouring Him. Seconds matter. A lot of hurtful words can be spoken in a few seconds, words that can scar for life. So we must consecrate and live every second for Him.

The words of James are written in a chain of effect: when we are quick to listen, we are more likely to be slower to speak in response to what is on our own mind, and consequently, we will also be slower to give place to anger.

Proverbs again instructs: “Those with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offence” (Prov. 19:11 NRSV).

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer (Ps. 19:14).

Contrary to what is often believed by the majority, our words, thoughts and actions do matter.

First Love Ministries International aka FERVOUR
All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

Author Biography

Sharah LaGail Wyatt
Web site: First Love Ministries International
Sharah LaGail Wyatt is Founder and President of First Love Ministries International aka FERVOUR (based in Fort Worth, Texas), with an extensive background in the fine and performing arts and in ministry. She is a member of the International Convention of Faith Ministries (ICFM). As an anointed teacher, writer/author, graphic artist, musician and composer, she desires to lead people of all ages into the presence of God and into developing a lifestyle of faith, worship and intimacy with Him.

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