In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19, N.K.J.V.)
I read about a cheapskate woman who walked into the office of her local newspaper to make sure that her recently deceased husband’s obituary was written to her specifications. After being escorted to the desk of the fellow in charge of the obituaries, she told him, “The only thing I want the obituary to say is: ‘Bob died.'” The man chuckled and said, “Sorry, ma’am, but there is a 7-word minimum on all obituaries.” “Well then,” said the woman, “let it read: ‘Bob died. His truck is for sale.'”
If I understand our text verse correctly, it means this: the more we talk, the higher chance we have of crossing the line into sin. It’s our inborn nature of sin that creates this problem. As Romans 3:13-14 says of our sinful condition: “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” (N.I.V.).
One of the things I like about Twitter is that it only gives you a limited amount of space in which to make your point. If you want to keep from spilling over into a whole other tweet, you must choose your words carefully and economically. That’s why my guess is that if Proverbs 10:19 is any indication, Solomon would approve of Twitter. But it’s along about here that we should ask the question: Does Proverbs 10:19 forbid all lengthy blog posts, long-winded sermons, etc.? My answer is, “No.”
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount wasn’t exactly brief, was it? The sermon Paul preached in Troas wasn’t either (Acts 20:7-12). That’s the one where Paul preached until midnight and caused a young man named Eutychus to fall into a deep sleep and plunge to his death out of a third-story window. Miraculously, Paul ran down to the street and resurrected him, but none of that would ever have happened if Paul had taken Solomon’s Proverbs 10:19 words to a fanatical extreme. Therefore, I think the best way to apply Proverbs 10:19 is to treat it as a general principle rather than an ironclad command. (I will admit, though, that I do believe the verse applies in more situations than we apply it.)
With that said, I’m starting to get the feeling that I myself should wind up this particular post. Wouldn’t it be awful to build a post around Proverbs 10:19 only to have that post drag on too long? So, even though there are some more things that I could say on this subject, I’m going to leave them for another time. Hopefully, that will spare some Eutychus out there a deep sleep and a long fall. You see, those of us who can’t raise people from the dead really should apply Proverbs 10:19 every chance we get.