Training for Reigning - 37 - Your News Years Motto

YOUR NEW YEARS MOTTO
MOST OF US TALK too much . . . and admit it. So, if you would like to get an idea of the huge amount of really idle words you may be indulging, try the following experiment. Make a bargain with yourself to the effect that for one single day you won’t start to talk about anything unnecessary. And when people talk to you, that you will say in reply whatever may be needful-but nothing more.
"Try it once," as some of my friends say; then, unless you are of the quiet kind, you will discover that you have undertaken a really tough assignment! Almost surely you will nearly burst from an innermost urge to tell someone something you heard, did, saw or read. And the strange feature of it will be that neither you nor the other person will be benefitted in any way by talking about the matter. Instead, the result may be that your attention shall be diverted from something of importance, causing you to make a mistake later on; or you may say something unintended, and so cause harm. "Try it once," as I have suggested-and as I myself have done-and see if what I have said is not true. The experiment is quite interesting.
"Oh, I’d go crazy if I had to keep quiet all the time," one lady told me. (Albeit, since she was an accomplished "chatter-box," I found it hard to imagine that any such disaster was likely to befall her on that account). However, no suggestion had been made that she should "keep quiet all the time"- merely that much of our talking was useless. She was on the defensive; and it was clear that what she really meant was that she would go crazy if she couldn’t keep talking all the time.
Now, why do we feel it needful to talk so much? It is because that, for many of us, talking is a real pleasure. We love to talk; for, quite apart from it being a communion between soul and soul, it has an entertainment value . . - particularly when spiced with a bit of the unexpected, or perhaps the scandalous? The blunt truth is that some of us, like Noah’s raven, seem to find a secret delight in feeding our souls on the carrion of sin- spoiled man’s disobedience, folly and shame. So, as I have said, talking, even when it be of trifling things, is one of man’s chiefest pleasures.
And the thing easily becomes a life-controlling, personality- changing habit. As a somewhat extreme example let me cite the case of a certain Christian woman and her son. The mother’s chief character-defect was a trend toward being suspicious of other Christians and their motives-which, to the best of her ability, she kept under continuous scrutiny. Most likely this faculty gave her something of the same satisfaction that some folks find in solving knotty problems. The problems present a sort of challenge to their thinking; and the finding of the answers gives them a boost in that they realize their brain-power was equal to the task. So it is that, like Alexander the Great, they figuratively set themselves down and sigh for more worlds to conquer when the problem-supply runs low.
In some such similar fashion this Christian mother and son sought to fathom what hidden meanings lay behind each look, gesture, or random word that came from this person or that. These deep mysteries were a constant challenge to their powers of detection. But now and then the supply dwindled, and they were reduced to rehashing the old occurences so that they might re-live their disgust with the cunning evils latent in the bosoms of their brethren and sisters. Naturally, in the re-telling of these stories a few fresh details crept in from time to time. Thus there seemed to be an ever-mounting sense of justification for their suspicions and motive-analyses; and, little by little, they walled themselves off from those who would have been their friends, fastening their criticisms and fears so securely to their warped lives that when their life-journeys were ended, they depart "unwept, unhonoured, and unsung." "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," said the Lord Jesus when He spoke concerning idle words: Matt. 12:33-37. Since they had kept their minds filled with their subjects it was inevitable that they should occupy a major place in their discussions. And while they talked chiefly only to one another, it was the talking that kept their thinking going, even as it was their thinking that altered their lives (Prov. 23:7)-a so-called "vicious circle," indeed.
We might go on to speak of such damaging things as slangy talk, or the telling of smutty stories. But the special angle that was brought to my attention lately was that of plain, unvarnished tale-bearing . . . where the telling was justified, it was thought, because the story was true. These dear ones would never stoop to tell anything about another person that wasn’t true. Never! But is that all that is needed in order to warrant our making a story of a Christian’s downfall the let-me-tell-it- first theme of our conversation?
Oh no, Beloved! "Tell it not in Gath," pleaded David, "lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph": 2 Sam. 1:20. And how often our irresponsible chatter-our eager, "Oh, did you hear about . . .
-has gladdened unchristian hearts through their discovery of some unwary saints’ mistake, folly or sin, and thus blighted the testimony of the Name of our Lord . . . just because the story was true.
Of course I’m not forgetting that some things require to be told to responsible persons, or to an assembly. This feature is not under discussion just now. Rather do I speak of that wholly unnecessary habit of talking about newsy items for no particular reason other than that we feel the urge to talk about something
-items that can be harmful to the affected person, or persons, even if true. At the same time I remind my own heart of Prov. 10:19. "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise"; and Prov. 17:28. "Even a fool when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise." Striking counsel from the Lord, indeed!
Perhaps, too, it might be a good thing if there were a revival of a custom practiced by some conscientious sisters of a past generation-the custom of having as a motto on their kitchen walls a text (sometimes crudely home-made) found in Lev. 19:16: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people."
So, what would you think of that as a New Year’s motto? Many a time that passage has silenced mercifully the tongue of the writer!