There is a Chinese proverbs which in Tagalog says, “walang salita, walay kamali; poco (or kunting) salita, kunting kamali; maraming salita, maraming kamali” (In English for the sake of our International viewers/readers of this article, this means, [no words, no mistakes; few words, few mistakes; plenty of words, plenty of mistakes]). He also said, “The tongue of the just is as choice silver:” (Prov. 10:19-20 KJV), and further said, “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness [or perversity] (Prov. 10:31-32 KJV). But I like most particularly the NLT version of Prov. 16:23 which says, “From a wise mind comes wise speech: the words of the wise are persuasive”. He gave emphasis to this by repeating it differently in Prov. 20:15: “Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies”. For those who have cases to prosecute or defend in any court of law or tribunal, it will benefit them if they engage the services of a lawyer who knows the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes authored by King Solomon and who will apply his knowledge, especially in his pleadings, whether orally or in writing.
Again, Solomon said, “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27, 28 KJV). Thus, a distinct characteristics of a man of wisdom is that he is not talkative. He sparingly talks, and if he talks it is always “bullseye”. Meaning, there is a point to be understood or to be accomplished.
Words are therefore important. Notably, by the Word of God the world and all that is in heaven and on earth have been created (Genesis 1:1-31).
Wars begin because of words. Why did President Bush declare war against Iraq or Saddam Hussein? Because the latter expressed in words his elation during the 9-11 catastrophe in New York, US.A. Then, when the 48 hours ultimatum was announced by President Bush, Saddam said, “The Americans will swim in their blood”. Unfortunately for Saddam, the Americans attacked first by air, then on the ground, by combat soldiers. So, let us be careful of our words, it might ignite a case in court which is annoying and always expensive, or worst of all, in a much bigger scale, it might result to a war which is most destructive in life and property.
I used to tell my clients to discourage them from unnecessarily or indiscriminately filing cases in court or to warn them of the necessity of spending a lot of money, time and effort once a case is filed in court by saying that filing or defending a case in court is like waging or engaging in a war. The nation that will first lose or lack war personnel or soldiers and materials like guns, ammunition, tanks, airplanes, ships, submarines, etc. will surrender or lose the war. Those who have logical minds follow my advice. Like what that American Ceasar and great Gen. Douglas MacArthur said, once you engage in war, “No retreat, no surrender. In war there is no substitute for victory”.
Jesus said that our spoken words reveal what kind of heart we possess or what is in our heart. The complete statement of Jesus is,
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NIV).
We cannot avoid speaking, but when we do so, let us remember the words of caution or advice of King Solomon, as aforequoted and as revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
When Solomon was already past 50 years old, writing Ecclesiastes, he said, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: … a time to keep silence (Eccl. 3:1,7). It is standard practice in all criminal investigations in the Philippines that the one under investigation is cautioned: “You have the right to remain silent. Any declaration you make can be taken against you…”. This must be the basis of an anonymous author who printed a quotation: “Getting into an argument with a woman is like being arrested. Because, anything you say can and will be used against you”. Our daughter, Susan, who is a lawyer practicing with me, gave me a copy of it which I posted in my room’s main door. I was waiting for a comment from my wife but despite the lapse of two months already, I never heard any word from her. And she goes in and out of my office everyday. She is practicing silence! I should be very careful because my wife is wise.
Indeed, there is a time to talk and a time to listen. There is a time to move as well a time for staying still. The wise person knows when to talk and when to keep silent.
When people were hungry for knowledge, Jesus spoke and taught for hours even beyond and past lunch time, but when He got to Pontius Pilate’s hall, where truth was ignored, He was silent. More so when He was endorsed to King Herod by Pilate. He spoke no word at all.
Our words matter. Jesus said, “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36, 37 KJV). Let us be careful of our words, when in doubt, keep silent.
(FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Weekly Bulletin, August 25, 2012)