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Be careful with that tongue

Musings and Memories


Over the years I have had my experiences with “foot-in-mouth-disorder.”  

You know, me being guilty of saying something embarrassing or inconsiderate, especially at a totally inappropriate time. My wife has done her best to help me pull my foot out of my mouth before I swallow my whole leg.  

I have gotten much better as I have gotten older, and I have learned to hold my tongue. They say that wisdom comes with age and experience. I like wise sayings, and I try to remember them, practice them, and then I even try to repeat them at times.  

Here’s some words of wisdom worth repeating: “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”  

Those wise words come from The Book of Proverbs, chapter 17:27-28. Another wise person once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  

Those words go well with that quote from Proverbs. Here are a few other wise sayings from the biblical book filled with wisdom.  

“Where there is much talk there will be no end to sin, but he who keeps his mouth shut does wisely.”  Proverbs 10:19

“The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off.”  Proverbs 10:31

“He who has a poor opinion of his neighbor has no sense, but a wise man keeps quiet.”  Proverbs 11:12

“There is one who speaks rashly like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise heals.”  Proverbs 12:18

“The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of fools gush out folly.”  Proverbs 15:2

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Proverbs 18:21

“Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”  
Proverbs 21:23

The editorial cartoonist Frank Tyger said, “There is no evidence that the tongue is connected to the brain.” 

 Someone else said, “One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is his tail wags instead of his tongue.”  
I have been a fan of televised presidential debates ever since that first one was shown on TV in 1960.  

Those two imposing figures were candidates Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. I don’t remember a thing that they said, but my parents were enthralled by it all so I watched along with them. I was just six years old at that time, so none of what those men said made much sense to me. Mom and Dad liked much of it and shared their opinions back and forth with one another. I just liked being in the living room with my parents.  

Over the years there have been quotes and video clips from various presidential debates that are shared on TV that stand out. 

 One of my favorites is when one candidate kept interrupting the other, and finally the candidate who was being cut in on grabbed the podium tightly and cried, “Will you shut up man!” I laugh just thinking about it. Mainly because I was thinking the same thing at the time. Sometimes people just need to SHUT UP!  

Benjamin Franklin once said these wise words, “A distinguished diplomat could hold his tongue in ten languages.”  

It’s interesting that two of the Ten Commandments deal with speech—taking the name of The Lord in vain and bearing false witness against another person (Ex. 20:7, 16).  

In the New Testament, Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount warned against the abuse of the tongue in “swearing falsely” (Mt. 5:33-37).  
Elsewhere, Jesus gave a stern warning regarding the bad language that sometimes comes out of a person’s mouth (Mt. 12:36- 37). The way one talks to others is a very revealing indicator of their character.  

The Scriptures describe different kinds of tongues or speech. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of those “treacherous” people who “bend their tongue like a bow.” He cautioned that no one should place their trust in someone who “deceives” and “slanders,” nor with those who “have taught their tongue to speak lies” (Jer. 9:2-5).  

God hates the lying tongue (Prov. 6:17; cf. Acts 5:3-4). Some use their tongues to rip and gut others—even their brothers and sisters in Christ. The vain Pharisee in Luke 18, in a dramatic presentation before the Lord, paraded his feigned accomplishments, but he was not considered right before God, in spite of all his bragging. 

It was the English philosopher and statesman, Francis Bacon, who said something to the effect that “a bragging man is scorned by the wise, and admired by fools.”  

There are those with whom you can scarcely engage in a conversation without being bored to tears with an incessant stream of self-adulating and dubious accomplishments.  

The poet Robert Frost once said that “half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”  

Like Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.”  

Unfortunately, he frequently opens his mouth and removes all doubt!  

My wife is a woman of few words, but when she speaks I have learned to listen. I’m married to a woman filled with wisdom, and when she speaks I know she has something worth hearing.  


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