Let my words be few

“I’ve never been wrong…actually that’s not true.  I was wrong once; it was that time when I thought I was wrong but I wasn’t.”

Years ago when I was working in construction, someone said this to me.  They were sort of joking but sort of serious, having the kind of personality that doesn’t have much room for humility.  It stuck with me because it so described this person’s outlook on life, and rung so true in my own thinking.

Whether a lot or a little, we all carry some of this in our heart.  It’s the idea that I am fully aware of myself, know a whole lot of things, and am right about all, or at least most of them.  Think that’s not you?  A simple litmus test:  How did you react the last time you were confronted?  The rare person quietly considers the challenge; most of us bow up, raise our voice, and foolishly fight for the survival of our aggrandized self image.

I’ve been thinking a good bit about an Old Testament story found in 1 Kings 20 over the last few years.  Nations are at war, and the proud Syrian king proclaims his victory over the Jews in advance: “The remains of your city will be handfuls of dust!”  Israel’s king responds with a wise and sober warning: “Let not him who girds his armor boast like him who takes it off.”

This is something to think about deeply.  Don’t boast before the battle as if you’ve already fought the battle.  Before you’re aware of the cost, don’t foolishly vow to pay it.  Before you hit your limit, don’t talk as if you can exceed it.  Before you speak a word, consider if that word is worth speaking.

In our day and age, we would do well to heed this word.  Talk, talk, talk.  Talk is so cheap.  Wireless tech paired with digital communication means that anyone on the planet can distribute their great and vast storehouse of wisdom to anyone on the planet, instantly.  Isn’t it amazing how much we know?  Quickly, we must tell everyone.

This leads to a culture of information and opinion exchange that isn’t necessarily all bad.  I love that I can hop on YouTube and learn how to fix my air conditioner all by myself.  But I would venture to say that the great majority of collected conversation available at the press of a button is less about truth and more about boasting.

In the older days people were quieter.  They could enjoy a quiet moment and appreciate what others might say.  These days we are so trained to avoid silence that we are already planning our next commentary while the other person is speaking.  Think of it – if you could go back ten years and edit every conversation, what might you delete?  Maybe a lot.

I think that the disease at the core of this is boasting.  It is a disease; it is “dis ease”, not having ease, with ourselves.  We so need a dog and pony show to make us feel valid that we offer an explosion of words everywhere we go, much of which we don’t even really believe.  It’s hard to be alone with yourself; the flow of words provide a scaffold to insulate, protect, and prop us up.

Solomon says something to this in Ecclesiastes 5:2: “God is in heaven and you are on earth; so let your words be few.”

Here is a man who has spent a life boasting and being patted on the back for his achievements, the knowledge of which has gone around the world.  At the end of this he sees it all as being meaningless and looks back, realizing that all his talk and fluff really had little substance.  He humbles himself before God, looks up, and shuts his mouth.

Here is a call for us all to take this ancient wisdom to heart and say less today than we’d planned on saying.

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At VCC, we believe that church is not a function: it is a family. Our religion is only as alive as we are, the people that pursue it. So, rather than acting as an organization, we want to act as an organism. We have no time for casual contacts and meaningless formalities. We are a fellowship on an adventure towards the stuff of God. Church means worshipping God together, studying the Bible together, fixing our cars together, hiking together, eating together, playing together, praying together... enjoying the warmth of the Holy Spirit in all parts of our lives together, not just in appointed meeting times.