“Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” – Proverbs 10:19
This isn’t a new thought, but many of us have become terrible in this day and age at saying “I’m sorry”. The world is full of apologies littered with “IF I offended anyone” or “I’m sorry, but…”. I’m as much to blame as anyone. Sometimes it’s just hard to admit that we have done something wrong or, more to the point, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we have hurt someone. I think it’s the natural human condition in all of us to show compassion and feel empathy, and when we err and violate those tendencies it can be hard to humble ourselves and admit that we need forgiveness. So, even though it is a much talked about phenomenon, it’s one that I believe we can get better at by talking about it less, and instead modeling the right behavior.
The secret sauce might just be found in the passage above. It’s a two-phase process: 1. Be prudent. 2. Hold your tongue. The first step can be the hard one. In the moment of realizing we’ve done wrong, thinking about the future can be tough. We’re wrapped up in, and sometimes overwhelmed by, our feelings in the moment. And more often than not, even when we are able to navigate those feelings, past hurts and disagreements are usually much quicker to arise in us than thoughts of the future. After all, those past experiences are imprinted on us in a very real way, whereas those future experiences that will shape us are still yet to come.
But, to some degree, think of the future we must. After all, these are the people that we have to live with, that we have to interact with, that we will more than likely go through those future experiences with. And how much harder will that be if we go around hurting each other and then adding onto that hurt with half-baked apologies?
The second step is much easier, although you might not know it if you look around. It’s a theme I come back to over and over in my own life, and one that I have written about a lot. Let’s face it, listening isn’t always easy, especially listening in an active way. It can be a chore, it’s time consuming, and it feels awkward at first. But then, doesn’t everything that is worth doing?
“Sin is not ended by multiplying words.” There is no, “I’m sorry, but I was just trying to…” followed by a long explanation as to why we did what we did. Sin is ended by being prudent and holding our tongues to listen to our brothers and sisters.