Running Your Mouth

For those of you who don't know me very well, one thing you should know about me is that I have this awful tendency to speak without thinking.

Perhaps you can identify?

It's like my mouth is connected to this strange stream of consciousness in which thoughts exit my mouth before they are processed in my brain, and I don't hear what I am thinking until I actually hear myself thinking it out loud in a room full of people.

Sometimes this is a good thing.  I can be somewhat funny, so such a thing will get often make other people laugh, and it helps for making conversation.  Or, should I be speaking in public or giving a presentation, I seldom suffer from awkward pauses, nor do I find myself without words.

Sometimes this is a bad thing.  Sometimes I find myself caught up in the heat of the moment, and say something rash, harsh, unloving, unkind, and unfiltered.  Sometimes I don't know when or how to stop, and I'll find myself ripping somebody a new one.

I don't think I'm alone in such an experience.  Regardless of how fluid your tongue is, controlling what rolls off it is something we all seem to suffer from, no matter how smart or important we are.  Just look at the people that appear on Jerry Springer, and compare them to political leaders appearing on the evening news.  There isn't much difference.  The inability we have to control our mouths runs deep.

This problem doesn't cease once we become Christians either.

Churches and Facebook pages alike are often torn to shreds by otherwise good appearing church people.  We find it necessary to speak up first, to take a hard stand for the truth, and to lambaste everybody that doesn't understand every nuanced iota of Scripture or political theory in the exact same way we do.  At a moments notice, we stand prepared to wrestle every last person to the ground, as we scornfully dismiss them as haters, the unsaved, or even regard them as wolves in sheep's clothing.

And we will do it all in the mighty name of Jesus of course.

Don't get me wrong, I among the guilty in this arena.  Sometimes I fear the terrible things I've said over the years will echo throughout the world for a lot longer than the wonderful things I've said.  And deep down inside, I think we all fear that because we know it is true.  We could say a thousand wonderful things, only to find that it is the one terrible thing we said that ends up becoming the very thing that others remember about us forever.  The legacy we leave will be paved by our own words.

Jesus taught us that we will stand in judgment for every idle word that we've ever spoken.  "By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."  That thought alone should shut us up for the next few years.  We should speak more cautiously and carefully.  Our words should be refined, calculated, and precise.  Instead of being the first idiot in the room to spout off our idea whenever we get the chance, we should do as the apostle James taught, and be "quick to listen and slow to speak."  

The fact that we are so quick to fill the silence of a room with the noise of our speaking shows that the weight of eternity hasn't quite set into our hearts yet.  Instead of fearing the silence, we should embrace it.  For in quietness and rest we will find our salvation.

We speak as if we are atheists.  We speak without any sense that God in heaven is keeping track of every idle word we say.  Therefore, if we are to give an account for every idle word we say, then when we speak, we should make sure every word counts for something.  And if we take on such an attitude, I believe we will discover that we never needed to say half the amount of words that we use on any given day.

I am reminded of a time when I was in Bible college.  There was an old Coptic priest who was attending our classes.  He seldom said very much, even in the midst of some pretty intense debates.  Yet the few times he ever decided to interject his opinion on a topic, he would gently raise his hand, and softly speak his peace.  And when he spoke, silence would always fall over the room, and everybody would lean forward to hear what this man had to say. Everybody would always give him their uttermost attention.

I was not that guy.  I spoke so much that one of my friends made a small sign that said "Shut Up Jimmy!"  Anytime they thought I was running my mouth far too long, they would simply flash their sign.  I said so much, but in the process, I ended up saying very little. I should've picked up on the wisdom of that priest.  He accomplished more with his few words than I did with my many.

There is no wisdom in running your mouth.  Sometimes the wisest thing you can say is nothing.

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