Many things in life are good, but when there is too much of some of them they are not so good. Talking is one of those things — too much is not so good. I’m a person who talks too much.
Talking less has been one of my New Year’s challenges the last couple of years, but I’ve made only minimal progress. Here are some wise warnings and insights about the issue from the book of Proverbs:
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” (Proverbs 10:19,NLT)
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 13:3, NIV)
“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” (Proverbs 15:3, ESV)
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17:27, NLT)
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2, NIV)
“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” (Proverbs 29:20, NLT)
I’m not confessing my talking too much violates each one of these nuggets of wisdom, but I am acknowledging I think I talk too much.
In general I talk too much, but specifically I sometimes tease and kid too much. I have some ideas of why I talk too much, but I’m not sure why I talk and tease so much.
Several years ago I mentioned this in a sermon and told the congregation that I tease people I like. Afterwards a woman approached me and asked, “Why don’t you tease me?” I told her, “Because I don’t like you.” But in my response I was teasing her and hope she realized I did like her. I do tease people I like.
The danger with constant teasing is that you can go too far and wound or hurt someone. I know that is true because my teasing of others invites them to tease me back. And since I have been wounded by some I know I too have wounded some.
Two quotes in my reading the last couple of months prompted me to give some thought to my habit of teasing others. One quote is from Timothy Keller’s book God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life in which he asks, “Do you tend to turn everything into a joke or carry on in a lighthearted way? That can be pleasant to some, but might it not be a denial of or insensitivity to the genuine sadness of life?” (p. 108) Ouch! You see why I underlined it when I read it, don’t you?
The other quote comes from Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book Thou Shall Prosper in which he suggests, “How you think of someone and how you refer to someone will ultimately impact how you relate to that person, even if you protest that you don’t mean anything by the appellation.” (p. 315) I don’t completely agree with the Rabbi, but I do think what he says is worth thinking about.
You may or may not personally identify with all this, but you probably know people who talk too much and/or tease too much. I want you to know that I’m aware of it and working on it. And even if you don’t identify with me, I hope you will take seriously the verses from the book of Proverbs.
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