“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7 ESV).”
These verses have intimidated me for a few weeks now, but it’s finally time to tackle them. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly where this blog is going to go… You see, I’m going through a period in my life right now where I’m trying to become more peaceful regarding who I am. I have become more open about myself to people who might not understand; I have shared my writing with my Facebook friends; I’m working to be completely confident in my thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a result, which I’m sure won’t come as too much of a shock to anyone who knows me well… I am being constantly reminded that I use a lot of words!
“Therefore let your words be few…a fool’s voice (comes) with many words; when…words grow many, there is vanity.” Oh boy… Am I a fool, or what? Thankfully, the commentary and the context of these verses make me feel a little better. The fool here is one who provides “lip-service” for the sake of looking spiritual, when in reality, their heart is far from God. The commentary says, “Sincerity, by contrast, is to be the mark of the Christian.” Phew! I’m sincere, so that makes me feel better….
One important takeaway from this passage is that our words and actions should be consistent. We should strive to always do what we say we’re going to do, and never promise something we have no business making, or worse yet, no intention of fulfilling. We have been studying the book of Judges in church, and a couple of weeks ago, our sermon was about how Jephthah made a vow with God that wasn’t particularly well thought out (Judges 11). Being unfamiliar with this story prior to hearing it, I must admit that I struggled with this sermon, and still do not completely understand everything. However, one thing is perfectly clear – it is of vital importance to clearly think through the promises we make to the Lord!
The commentary makes some other excellent points regarding when to speak and when to listen. The Bible says “Hear, O Israel” rather than “Speak, O Israel”. Jesus also says “He who has ears, let him here” rather than “She who has a mouth, let her speak.” There are many contemporary expressions that go along with this… My personal favorite is “Silence is golden, but duct tape is silver.”
I am comfortable joking about the fact that I am verbose, but I do strive to use my words wisely for building relationships and encouraging others, rather than for tearing people down and being hateful. I pray that my words, while sometimes plentiful, serve to show my love for God and for others. As Ecclesiastes 3:7 mentioned, there is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak.”
But, sometimes I speak too much… I know this; I don’t always want to take it seriously, but it’s an ever present reality. It’s definitely a societal ailment to embrace noise over silence. But, there is a time for silence…
I have a verse on the wall above the television in my living room. It says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).” In the ESV, the latter part is translated “you have only to be silent”. I need reminder of this truth….every day, every second, which is why this was the first scripture to adorn my walls.
I strive to be a Christian who revers God and remains in constant awe of His power and mercy. I pray that I am not found guilty of turning God into a false god, a construct of my selfishness, which seeks to promote my own will, rather than His amazing plans for my life. In order to live the life He desires for me, I must keep His greatness (of which I fall incredibly short) at the forefront of my worship, and that requires me to be silenced and humbled by His presence. It also requires me to be patient with His plan, as I am His work in progress, and will not be perfected overnight.
Love God, love people, daily surrender, completely trusting in His plan…. Yeah, that’s what it’s all about!
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14)”