Saturday, March 25, 2023

Vain Babbling (Proverbs 10:13, 19; 27:2)

"In the multitude of words sin is not lacking …" (Prov. 10:19).

Learning to control the tongue involves more than simply knowing when to remain silent or what to say. Times arise when it is proper to speak, but not in abundance. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Prov. 10:19). Bridges describes two particular sins that accompany a “multitude of words”—the sin of “egotism” and the sin of “vain babbling.”

The sin of egotism is evident when your own mouth praises you and not another. Solomon told his son, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2). Self-exaltation often arises out of verbosity. There are those who love to dominate a conversation. They burst upon a social gathering and immediately assume the center of attention directing the course of the conversation in every circle they invade. Egotism raises its ugly head when the speaker begins to bring attention to himself and his own accomplishments. Such self-commendation is designed to draw attention to oneself instead and away from others in the conversation. William Sprague, a contemporary of Bridges, advised his daughter “never [to] say anything of yourself which even indirectly involves commendation, unless under circumstances of very rare occurrence. If you watch the operations of your heart, you will probably be surprised to find how strong is the propensity to bring one’s self into view, as often and to as great advantage as possible. Whenever you can illustrate any subject on which you may be conversing by a reference to the experience of anyone else, it is better, in all ordinary cases to avail yourself of it, than to refer even indirectly to your own.”

“Vain babbling” describes the sin of talking incessantly (babbling) without purpose. Some people talk a lot and say little, exposing their folly and their ignorance. The wise man possesses useful knowledge and knows when to use it for the benefit of others instead of airing empty words. Parents should help their children guard against this habit of “vain babbling” by not allowing them to prattle on about things of no consequence. Train them to speak with a purpose and to consider those who are listening. Those who speak just to hear themselves talk will often find others increasingly unwilling to listen.

Throughout the day, count the times you think about exalting yourself, your own accomplishments, or your own opinions in a conversation. How many times do you actually talk about yourself in a conversation? Make a conscious effort not to talk excessively nor focus on yourself when talking to others.