October 22, 2020

Another Look: A Word about Words


Then [Job’s friends] sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.

• Job 2:11-13

• • •

My dear friend,

Christians believe in words and their power. And well we should. Our sacred book begins with God speaking and bringing order to a chaotic world. The Gospel begins with the Word made flesh. Our very faith comes through hearing the word of God. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, went through all the land, teaching and proclaiming God’s word about the kingdom of heaven. Great is the company of those who bring the word!

But we often forget the word of wisdom:

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

laurel_hardy9Fitly spoken, he said.

  • Spoken at the right time.
  • Spoken when appropriate.
  • Spoken after listening.
  • Spoken after having given thought to what I’m about to say.
  • Spoken with proper understanding of the circumstances.
  • Spoken with sensitivity to the other’s feelings and concerns.
  • Spoken after listening.
  • Spoken after having checked my motives.
  • Spoken with due humility, realizing I may not know the whole story.
  • Spoken in conjunction with a willingness to do something to help.
  • Spoken in as few words as possible.
  • Spoken with carefully chosen words.
  • Spoken prayerfully.
  • Spoken after listening.

Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips. I am utterly dependent on God’s Word to cleanse me. Only through grace and the Spirit can I give a word fitly spoken.

Until then, shh. . . quiet.

Job’s friends did more good in one verse of silence than in thirty-five chapters of words.

That’s something to think about today.

In silence.

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.

• Psalm 141:3

Originally posted in February 2011


  1. Thanks be to God…

    ….for once, I am speechless…

  2. …..as we should all be…….occasionally

  3. A wise old mentor if mine once said that sometimes we need to employ God’s strategy of silence. No one gets burned by hot words that never spoken.

  4. Are never spoken, sorry for that typo. Lol, its late!

  5. In my TR days, one phrase that particularly stuck in my craw was the one attributed to St. Francis – “Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” “How in the blazes do you communicate truth WITHOUT WORDS?!?” was – and often still is – my thought. But in an age where words – often impersonally, electronically meditated – are generated at ever-more exponential speeds and convey ever more exponential amounts of bile, perhaps some quiet, personal, unrequited acts of charity are just what the Great Physician ordered.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > “How in the blazes do you communicate truth WITHOUT WORDS?!?”
      > was – and often still is – my thought.

      Depends on what one believe the truth is. If is Love or is it Get-Saved? If it is Love then you are in it for the long-game, not for the moment [aka Get-Saved!]. If it is Love then you demonstrate Love – mostly by simple concern – for your neighbor and your place [where your neighbors are]. Day after day. And don’t worry about The Truth too much, The Truth is tough, it has managed to survive for century upon century; The Truth does not *need* you. Your neighbor might.

      Pick up the trash when you see it. Help clear the sidewalks when it snows [and dig their car out when it *really* snows]. No task is beneath Love. It is the Hero who needs the music swelling from the orchestra pit as he triumphs. Love does not.

      Say “Hello”. Learn people’s names. Do you know the names of your neighbors? [Your actual neighbors – not the metaphorical all-mankind-is-my-neighbor neighbor who is nothing but a meaningless fiction.]

      It is easy, and very hard.

      But nobody, and they are correct about this, is interested in what you, we, or I have to sell … err… I meant “say”, in a world flooded with words.

      > perhaps some quiet, personal, unrequited acts of charity are just what
      > the Great Physician ordered

      Yes, and it might also just really make someone’s day.

    • “What we need most . . . . is to be silent before this great God . . . ,
      for the language He best hears
      is silent love.”

      (St John of the Cross)

  6. If any post needed the comments function disabled, surely it is this one?

  7. . . . .

  8. A man named Tom a Vietnam vet I worked with when I was 19-23 on and off never hardly spoke a word. He would still dive and hit the ground at loud noises. He never got mad at me even when I gave him good reason to. I jumped on a scaffold board once and we both went to the ground from 15 feet. He just got up and went to the truck and drank coffee. I said I was sorry and he said get on the boards slowly. We were laying stone on a chimney. I watched him a lot till one day I asked if he went to church and he said yes. I asked if I could go with him and he said yes so I did. Grace Baptist church always sang Just as I am at the end but I was there because I liked Tom and had never met anyone like him. He holds such a special place in my heart and always will. Tom always did things at the church when asked and hardly ever said a word.

    All week I have been pondering out of the heart come the things from the tongue and have been asking for more love. I just know my tongue will receive the reward of having more of Him in my heart and I have a ways to go so I will keep asking the rest of my life for more of that till the day I am left speechless kneeling before Him.

  9. I have been writing this all week a verse a day because time is short. It needs a title and I would like to have suggestions. The last verse was today. If you would indulge me and forgive me but I am compelled to.

    Out of the heart pours my tongue
    Very few of men could ever master
    My example in the living son
    Love is the way to avert disaster

    So more is the love I ask of You
    Pouring in my heart so it can pour out
    You know my need and know it’s true
    Soft is the whisper as loud as a shout

    Maybe within the silence and humility
    Will I find the heartfelt movement of love
    The ground plowed open with fertility
    Being watered from the heavens above

    For precious seed in now open heart
    Nurtured and adored by the planter
    It is here at the place from the start
    In loving grace from the grantor

    You supply my every need and more
    In desire and wants I look around
    At my hands are the things I look for
    I sense Your love when they are found

    It is then I know You are always there
    Before my consciousness of light
    Within loves purpose of how You care
    It is here I have come to embrace life

    • This is lovely. Would you mind if I set it to music?

    • w~ A time honored tradition when a poem doesn’t come with a title is to use the first line or part of it, in this case “Out of the Heart Pours My Tongue” or “Out of the Heart”. An alternative would be to use a line or phrase from within the poem, possibly “Love Is the Way” or “Soft Is the Whisper” or “You Supply My Every Need” or the one that jumps out at you.

      Speaking of alternatives, if you should ever make your way up in my neck of the woods, I have alternative drinks for those on a regimen, as does the communion tray we share at church. As an old English major, I continue to delight in your ear for rhyme, which often takes some unexpected turns that are very hard to pull off, and which can’t easily be learned in a classroom.

    • Thank you for sharing this beauty, w.

      What came to my mind was “Pouring.”


    • Possible title:

      “More is the Love I Ask”

    • Thank you, w.

  10. Proverbs 10:19. If you keep talking you will sin…guaranteed.

  11. Lovely..thanks

  12. Randy Thompson says

    On words, courtesy of the Desert Fathers:

    They said of Agatho that for three years he kept a stone in his mouth in order to teach himself silence.


    A brother questioned Abba Hierax saying, “Give me a word. How can I be saved?” The old man said to him, “Sit in your cell, and if you are hungry, eat; if you are thirsty, drink; only do not speak evil of anyone, and you will be saved.”

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    And in honor of CM’s selection of graphics:

  14. CM, this particular thread never really got off the ground because of the implied stricture against posting anything, and so in my one of my very rare bouts of boredom I checked out Rob Grayson in your links of recommended reading above. This guy is really good, intelligent, thoughtful, articulate, and speaking right to the core of so many of our arguments and failures to understand what is going on. Basically looking at the claim of Scripture as ultimate authority, a legacy of the Reformation and a source of so much trouble today in Evangelical and Fundamentalist thinking. Shows up here on a regular basis. Highly recommended to all to check Rob out.

  15. Did I miss something? Is there some moratorium against posting? Or maybe some of the toxic stuff is being diffused?