“Study to be quiet.”
Dr. Joe R. Brown of Rochester, Minnesota, tells of the frustration he encountered while trying to take a physical history on a patient. The man’s wife kept answering every question. Finally, Dr. Brown requested that she leave the room. But after she left he discovered that her husband couldn’t speak. Calling the wife back, Dr. Brown apologized for not realizing the man had aphasia—loss of speech—and couldn’t speak a word. The wife was even more astonished—because she didn’t know either! The Bible says there’s “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecc 3:7 NIV). Why? Because communicating too little can destroy a relationship, and so can talking too much. Sometimes we talk because we’re lonely and have few opportunities to speak to others; other times it’s because we love the sound of our own voice. Whatever your motivation, excessive talking can hurt you. That’s why Paul writes, “Study to be quiet.” To “study” implies striving or intense effort. And if you have a “motor mouth” it’ll take intense effort and discipline to overcome this entrenched habit. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to say less than you know; sometimes your power in a situation comes from silence, not words. Anxious people tend to blabber on, and when you’re negotiating that can put you at a distinct disadvantage because it tips the other person off that you’re insecure. When Jesus stood before Pilate to be judged, “He opened not His mouth” (Isa 53:7 NKJV). Why? Because Jesus wasn’t on trial—Pilate was! And Jesus knew it. Here’s the bottom line: You usually learn more by listening—so don’t talk too much!