Just a Word

“I know I am coming to the day in which I will be free of words: their master rather than their servant.” – Thomas Merton

Sometimes we talk too much. And, if it isn’t our own speech, it may be the talking of others. We are surrounded with words – written, spoken, heard.

Maybe we should look for a little more silence – internal quiet that provides space for communication beyond words – the kind that true friends share, and the kind the Holy Spirit gives. Here are a couple of thoughts on this from the Bible:

Be concise

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19).

Author and pastor Eugene Peterson was known for long pauses in his conversations. If he was asked a question, he would often sit quietly for a time before responding. And then his answer was concise, to the point.* I want to learn to do that. Not to just say the first thing that comes to mind and then go on and on explaining what I mean. Isaiah indicates the same concept when he prays, “. . . that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary” (from Isaiah 50:4). Not a sermon or a book, but a word. Sometimes that’s all we need to say.

Be gracious

 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips” (Luke 4:22b: about Jesus).

To those who followed him, to those who were in need, to those who were seeking truth, his words were filled with grace. I’d like to be like Jesus that way, wouldn’t you?

Today may our words be few and gracious!

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” – Proverbs 16:24

*Winn Collier, A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson (New York: Waterbrook, 2021).