Watching Our Words

I took a retreat at a monastery a while back. Their custom is to observe total silence during the morning, and speaking only when necessary throughout the rest of the day. This took some getting used to, but I found it to be beneficial.

The following week I led the music at a camp in which the leadership team stayed together in the same cabin. We had a great time, laughing and joking with one another.

Our conversations were, for the most part, uplifting, but it wasn’t long before I noticed something. The more I talked, the more likely I was to say the wrong thing.

I also noticed that as I filled my days conversing with others, I had less time to converse with God.

Thomas A’ Kempis, in encouraging others to silence, said…

We often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation. Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly. When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify.

I’m not suggesting that we all take vows of silence, but it will do us good to watch our words carefully, with the goal of saying only things that will edify others.

Maybe today you could give yourself a challenge. Before speaking, ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say necessary? Will it build up those who are listening?

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)