Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Many Words

Those who revel in the sound of their own voices are frequently left to enjoy themselves free of competition. "If you want to know how to make people shun you," notes Dale Carnegie's classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, "here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking... bust right in and interrupt." Proverbs 10:19 predicts even more serious consequences than losing all one's friends: "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise" (NIV). (See also the blog entry for 4/21/08.)

For all that--and for all our quickness to agree that nonstop babblers are horrendous bores--"talking too much" is a near-universal fault, probably because human nature easily recognizes it in everyone but ourselves. Even in prayer, the majority of us do nearly all the talking: "We dictate to God our shopping list and say 'Amen,'" as one writer put it. Then we complain that God "doesn't answer our prayers," when in fact we aren't listening for answers--we just want God to give us what we want and then step back until we think of something else to ask for. And we seldom seem to make room for any idea that He might want--or deserve--anything from us.

If somebody said straight out, "I don't think God or anyone else is important except as a means to serve my interests," we'd be shocked at such arrogance. Yet through our other words--our incessant talking about how much we know and how important our needs are and how we never get enough respect--many of us say the same thing daily.

That's why talking too much can't be dismissed as a relatively harmless personality flaw. Considering ourselves more important than even God is the worst of sins.

To make endless talk is an easy thing--
Thousands chatter in mindless ways--
But to know when the time for silence comes
Is a skill worth the highest praise.

To write countless words is a common thing,
Seeming often to have no end;
But to read the words of God's Holy Book
Is a way few their time will spend.

Our Lord's priceless words seek our minds and hearts,
Yet so many stop up each ear.
Please, today turn from your own empty words,
And take time God's great voice to hear!

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