Thumper's Mom was Right

One of the most important lessons I ever learned came from being in the play Bambi. My only theatrical performance was in first grade, and I believe our costumes were made out of grocery bags and crayons which didn't seem to matter at the time. I don't remember a single one of my lines, but I do remember one from Thumper's mom: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." This made a lasting impression on me and is still a rule of thumb I try to live by today.

That being said, I was reading Proverbs 10 tonight and was surprised by some of the wisdom Solomon dispensed on usage of that powerful tool, the tongue. For example:

v. 8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

v. 10 He who winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

v. 19 When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

You get the point. I don't think that Solomon is saying that we all should become mimes so that we don't come to ruin. In my extremely shy youth I would have wholeheartedly agreed with that logic since I didn't begin talking until college. But I do think he is instructing us to be prudent with our speech. Paul further supports this in Ephesians 4:29 when he says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

This makes me wonder how much of my speech is hollow, shallow, and unnecessary. Do I delight in building others up, or in tearing them down? Should I be more careful with my wit and moreover my sarcasm? Humor is highly valued in American culture. Sometimes I think it is valued more highly than wisdom, or in knowing when not to speak. And often we write things off that we say by blowing it off as a joke. If we make fun of someone we just say that we are "merely kidding." I'm not saying humor is not good or enjoyable, but perhaps more emphasis should be placed on building one another up rather than quipping one-liner tear downs.

I'm done. I won't type myself into ruin tonight.


marc said...


(ps, what's wrong w/ your blog? there's no template)

Blake said...

Apparently the hosting site of my template is down. I noticed the same thing on my friend Matt's blog who uses the same service. Hopefully they'll come back online here soon, or else I'll just change the template out.

Courtney said...

My Grandpa always told my Dad, and my Dad passed it on to me, that in every bit of sarcasm and in every joke, there is a grain of truth. Meaning that if I'm making a tacky comment about someone, I can't just blow it off as a joke....because deep inside, part of me means exactly what I said.

Like you said in a previous post: Too often, we're worldly sugar instead of Christ-like salt.

jon said...

You requested comments so I have one. I think that when we do choose to say something nice to someone, it is generally about something shallow like "I like your hair!" or "Where did you get that shirt? Its wonderful!", for example. If only we really took to heart what it meant to be honest with each other and encourage people to be and act the way the Bible teaches us to be.