The more you close your mouth, the more cognizant you will become of your own pride and desire to be heard. The more you close your mouth, the more you will listen to others. Who knows, as you say fewer words, the ones you do utter may grow in value and application.
The practice of spiritual disciplines will aid you in your walk with Jesus and in your walk with others. The more time you spend in Bible reading and prayer, for instance, the more likely you are to be growing in godliness. There are lists of spiritual disciplines and books written about spiritual disciplines. Lists include such disciplines as Bible intake, prayer, fasting, evangelism, worship, meditation, simplicity, silence, and solitude.
One discipline that is conspicuously absent from most lists, but which I find to be incredibly beneficial in my sanctification and in my relationships with others is the spiritual discipline of shutting my mouth. You may practice silence and solitude, but that isn’t the same thing as the discipline of shutting up.
Silence and solitude is the discipline you practice before the Lord. But, the discipline of shutting your mouth is practiced in the presence of others.
Biblically, this discipline is proposed in several passages of scripture:
- James 1:19 — “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
- James 1:26 — “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”
- Proverbs 1:8-9 — “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and forsake not your mother’s teaching for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”
- Proverbs 10:19 — “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
There should be time in your life where you practice extended periods of silence and solitude before the Lord. But, there should also be times when you shut your mouth in the presence of others. Be quick to listen. Be patient in listening. Sometimes, when people are saying things that may not be exactly accurate, you will even have to be long-suffering in your listening. But, it may not be helpful to speak.
Your speaking to a fool could be as throwing pearls before swine. Further, if you choose to speak into a subject about which you are ill-informed, you may show yourself to be the fool.
Truthfully, we often speak because we want to be seen as important, or wise, or learned.