Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Sometimes, we say too much. Each of us, at one time or another, has been guilty of misusing our words. Whether due to a lack of self-control, care, or discernment, we’ve all said things we later regretted. We’ve shared secrets that were supposed to be kept silent. We’ve made hurtful comments that were better left unsaid. Even our complaining, on occasion, has overshadowed our gratitude. Unfortunately, when we don’t spend enough time considering the words we speak, our shortcomings become a reflection of who we are. We see this concept come to life in Proverbs 29:11. The scripture states: “A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.” For many of us, we know that we should have better control over our words. So then why do we struggle so much?
What’s Inside of Us
First, we don’t give enough space to the idea that we might be wrong. What we feel in a moment could be inaccurate due to not having enough information. The sensitivity of our current situations could be causing us to misread the situation. In other instances, we might be leading from a place of trauma, triggering rash responses. We also must not forget that our personal struggles with patience, self-worth, and anger impact the way we choose to respond. Having emotions doesn’t make our feelings truthful, but it does make them real. That’s why it’s important to recognize that just because, for example, we have an inclination to vent, doesn’t mean we should.
On the other hand, when we’re in the right, we still may not give enough consideration to the words we speak. Yet these words are still a reflection of what’s inside of us. This means that if we hold onto any darkness, we risk our thoughts becoming tainted… and then… our words. When we gave way to sin, we become willing to disregard the emotional well-being of others, to break our promises, and to let our insecurities take over our decision-making. We begin to justify our weaknesses, which makes our lights grow a bit dimmer. What do we do then, to stay strong when our emotions and situations cause us to feel incredibly weak?
We seek wisdom. Proverbs 29:11 describes the person who holds back his feelings as wise. Think about it. When our emotions are regulated, we’re able to better discern the voice of the Holy Spirit. We learn to differentiate right from wrong, to not take every moment personal, and to know that some things just don’t need a response. Most importantly, however, we learn how to better manage the emotions that live inside of us.
Divine wisdom teaches us that words have power. When we speak on issues, we give life to them, and sometimes – that’s okay. There are times when it’s necessary to address the feelings that are in our hearts. We need to use our voices to advocate for self, and for those in need. Nevertheless, there are other times when our energy is best spent elsewhere. For example, should we keep talking about the problem, or start considering potential solutions? Do we focus more on venting about life’s challenges, or do we start more openly embracing the concept of gratitude? Well, the choice is ours, and where we feed our energy, it will start to grow. So, if we stay in the realm of negativity, we’ll get negativity but if we choose to find God in the darkness, He will give us light.
The Power of Silence
Heavenly wisdom also teaches us the power of silence. Psalm 4:4 states: Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Often, to gain control of our emotions, we must first be still. It’s a concept that we need to practice… so the next time you become angry, first take a moment to be still. Why? Because it’s in the stillness that we’re more able to connect with God. As He pours out the Holy Spirit onto our souls, the immediate surge of emotions starts to wash away so we can more clearly discern what God is telling us. The Spirit is then able to reveal all truth to us (John 16:13) as we meditate on God’s words.
Ultimately, We Must Address What is In Our Hearts
In an excerpt takin from James 3:5-12, the scripture reads:
Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity… But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? …Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Our tongues have started wars, broken hearts, generated misinformation, spread harmful rumors, and changed lives forever. They have also ministered to others, been a comfort in a time of need, and shared in beautiful moments of love and care. It’s important to ourselves, and others, that our tongues aren’t fires of destruction but a place of healing. This scripture warns us, however, that to do so on our own is impossible. To show restraint, we must first walk in the light of God and be obedient to His commandments.
We see an example of this in Psalm 17:3, when we read: You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. When we purpose in our hearts to follow God, the duality inside of us begins to fade. As this happens, we become a spring with only fresh water, guarding against any contaminations. Such a passage teaches us that if we do not address what’s inside of us, we cannot make space for the Holy Spirit to pour out His blessings upon us. It is in God’s strength that we can learn the power of self-control, but we must first be willing to submit to His will.
When Proverbs 29:11 tells us that: “A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.” , it’s not just a quick piece of wisdom. It’s a statement to elicit conviction, so that we can accept correction. If we spend our time venting and complaining about everything we feel, we leave little room for God’s work to be done in our lives and the lives of others. Consider Noah. He spent his time preaching the gospel and working to build the ark. There wasn’t much room for feeling sorry for himself or being frustrated by his circumstances. Noah had a job to do, and so Noah did it. The same goes for you and me.
We honor God with the way we use our time, and that includes the use of our time as it pertains to our tongues. Do we need to write that post? Share that message? Vent for that amount of time? Or do we need to start considering healthier ways to manage our emotions? Should we spend more time in prayer asking for the discipline and healing needed to practice self-control? The choice is ours to make, but I challenge each of us to try making one or two more positive decisions about how we use our words, and consequentially our time. Once you see the power of God manifesting in your life, the next three or four decisions won’t be as difficult.
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