“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).
There is nothing complicated about this proverb. If you talk a lot, you are going to end up sinning in what you say. Self-control in speech is a mark of wisdom.
The world’s values are contrary to this teaching, and we see it in many ways as we look around us.
- The explosion of the Internet, in part, is because everyone has an opinion and wants their opinion to be heard. Talk is cheap when you do it on the web. You can start a blog and bash on about anything, usually with little visible consequence — except God sees. Is our web involvement really honouring to God, or are we drifting into a multitude of words which easily lead to sin?
- If you are going through a hard time, the world tells you to find someone who will listen. “I just need support, someone who will listen to me.” Actually, it’s really, really difficult to find that concept in the Bible anywhere. Biblical support is to encourage each other to do what is right, to get our eyes off of our problems and ourselves, and look to the Lord. It is to remind the hurting person that they have a role to play in loving and serving others, and they are hindering the church if they neglect that role. If instead we spend a lot of time talking about our problems, we tend to rapidly drift into self-focus (pride), complaining (unthankfulness), bitterness at our circumstances, resentment towards those who we blame, etc.
- The world tells you to let your feelings out, to express them. This often generates a “multitude of words” which contain much sin. The Bible tells us to rule our spirit (Proverbs 16:32), to exercise self-control. Expending many words about feelings almost always simply stirs them up and makes them worse.
- The world tells you that you have just as much right to be heard as anyone else. Your opinion counts just as much as the next guy. Of course, the next guy might be an expert and you might have never studied the topic, but opinions are everything, leading to anarchy and abundant error. Not everyone’s opinion has equal value, because not everyone’s opinion has been equally informed by fact, and in spiritual matters not everyone’s opinion was formed within the context of walking with God. But the world tells us to express your opinion, and expect to be heard, leading to a wonderful(?) mix of pride and ignorance, with sin abounding, and conflict multiplying as everyone thinks their opinion should be heard.
If we could stop, listen to a playback of everything we say in context, and analyse it carefully, we’d come to a mortifying conclusion: far too much of what I say is all about me, trying to get people to look at me, think well of me, honour me, feel sorry for me, appreciate me, blah, blah, blah — yuck! In a multitude of words, there is invariably a multitude of me.
Pride isn’t the only sin that comes out when we spew forth a multitude of words, but it’s probably the most common one. Pride is sin, and wisdom’s enemy.