“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything [“word,” margin] before God: for God is in heaven and thou upon the earth: therefore let thy words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2) Too much talking is very destructive to spirituality. Many people wonder why they do not have a closer walk with God. With some it is because they talk too much. It is surprising to note how much worthless talk there is in the world today.
How many think they must keep constantly talking to be entertaining! They do not know the power and the beauty of silence. Hearts communing in silence exert a power and influence over each other. Our musings are transmitted to other hearts. Ofttimes when my wife and I have been driving along some quiet country road or have been sitting in the quiet of our home, she has spoken of the very thing on which I was meditating. Often the thoughts of our hearts exert more powerful influence over the hearts and the minds of our companions than would our words.
It is true that words fitly spoken are “like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11); but unless fitly spoken, they become most unsightly, degrading, and ruinous. The most beautiful thing in its place often becomes the most unsightly thing when out of place. Let your words be few and well chosen. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin.” (Proverbs 10:19) In that ceaseless prattle there is an awful waste of real soul energy. The odor of a rose confined in a room is very perceptible and delightful but in open air it would soon be spent. Words that are gathered in hours of silence, burst forth in strength and beauty; but where there is a constant flow of speech, the words run down into weakness. Alas! how much shallowness there is in much of the present day conversation! I do not mean among the unregenerate only, but among Christians as well. One word seasoned with grace is worth far more than a thousand graceless ones. Make your words palatable by putting in much seasoning.
There is much to do in these days, by way of visiting and talking to others, so much writing to be done, and so much preaching needed, that, to some, hours spent in silence may seem to be a great waste. It is not if the heart’s musing is on proper themes. The ministry of Jesus was a short and busy one, yet He found much time to be alone. He would go apart into the desert and the mountain and there in deep communings in the Spirit He would compress within His inner being a holy unction that would burst forth upon the ears and hearts of His hearers in such weight that they would say, “Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46) Elijah was left alone by the brook Kidron. We may think this was a waste of time. Paul was shut up in prison, but there he gathered force of words that speak to this day. If you would bring flowers to others, you must go into the valley to gather them. To converse with others without first having gathered in your closet vital force into your own inner being, is like trying to feed hungry mouths from an empty basket. To give out in excessive talk more than the soul has gathered in its silent communings, is a waste of vital force and will bring a decline in spirituality, just as the muscle is weakened by being too severely exercised.
“Let your speech be alway [seasoned] with grace.” (Colossians 4:6) Talk not seasoned with grace is as insipid as food without salt. Our words should be so seasoned with grace that they would assist others into a more heavenly frame of spirit. It is in the closet that we take on a store of seasoning grace. More time is required to do the seasoning than to do the serving. In other words, more time should be spent in secret prayer, in deep meditation and thoughtful reading, than in mingling and conversing. A useful man of God one time said he had learned that about an hour was as long as he could spend in conversation to profit. If you talk more than you pray, your words will run beyond the point of seasoning and be graceless.
Satan, in all probability, will tell you that time spent in reading the Bible, in silent meditation, or in secret prayer is time misspent. He will endeavor to persuade you that you have no time for these. He would send you out in great haste to feed others from an empty basket. Be careful of your words. See that everyone is seasoned with grace. Unless they are, they are wasted words. The unction of the Spirit upon your soul is obtained and retained by reading or in prayer and meditation. You should linger in the closet until this unction is compressed to the utmost capacity of your soul. It will impart force to your words. The preacher that does but little praying may use great, swelling words; but he is only a sounding brass. Let your words be few. Man shall give account for every idle word. Be careful how you spend the silent hours. If you spend them in idle dreaming or lazily, you will not be fit to go out among men. You will only go empty handed. Improve the silent moments and gather to your soul a bountiful store of grace; then go out and pour it upon the hearts of others.
O ye saints, avoid multiplicity of words. Some may count you dull and stupid, but it is better that the world should call us stupid than that God should count us graceless. Speak only such words as are good “to the use of edifying, that [they] may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) In relating past experiences, be careful that it is done to edification, and not just to please. Be willing to listen rather than to speak. If a man does not bridle his tongue, his religion is in vain (James 1:26). Someone has said, “Speech is silver; silence is golden.” Let your words and your thoughts be such as will invite and encourage the Spirit of God to rest upon you and as will keep in your soul an uninterrupted sense of the divine presence.
This was said of a man who enjoyed a walk and communion with God attained by but few: “It was a constant care to keep a deep sense of God’s presence. In order to do this he was slow of speech, and had the exact government of his words. To this he was so inwardly attentive, as sometimes to appear stupid to those who knew him not; though few conversed in a more lively manner when he judged it would be for the glory of God. It was his continual endeavor to draw up his own and every other spirit to an immediate intercourse with God; and all his intercourse with me was so mingled with prayer and praise that every employment and every meal was as it were perfumed therewith. He often said: ‘It is a very little thing so to hang upon God by faith as to feel no departure from Him. But I want to be filled with the fullness of His Spirit. I feel,’ said he, ‘sometimes such gleams of light, as it were wafts of heavenly air, as seems ready to take my soul with them to glory.’ ”
Another said of the same devoted man: “I was intimately acquainted with him for above thirty years. I conversed with him morning, noon, and evening without the least reserve during a journey of many hundred miles, and in all that time I never heard him speak one improper word, nor saw him do an improper action. Many exemplary men have I known holy in heart and life, but one equal to him I have not known—one so inwardly and outwardly devoted to God. So unblameable a character in every respect, I have not found either in Europe or in America; nor do I expect to find another such this side of eternity.”
It is our privilege to live as near God as did this man or any other, but in order to do so we must have the same constant care, guard our words, and live in an atmosphere that is wafted fresh from the perfumed fields of heaven.