Let Your Words Be Few
Did you know that the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 are only about 300 words in length total? Did you know that the 23rd Psalm uses only about 125 words? Did you know that Jesus' example prayer for His disciples in Matthew 6 is approximately 70 words in length? Did you know that the United States Department of Agriculture needed over 15,000 words to discuss the pricing of cabbage?!

Wow. That's the first thing that came to mind when I stumbled upon that statistic recently. I was stunned. 15,000 words to talk about the pricing of cabbage! Who would write such a document? Better yet, who would read it?

The end of Ecclesiastes 5:2 says - "...let your words be few." That is excellent advice for everyone, no matter who you are. One of the quickest ways to get in trouble--whether it be with our fellow humans or with the Lord--is to talk a lot. The more we talk the more likely it is that we'll sin with our lips.

Now, I'm not recommending that we become mimes, but we should be continually mindful of what Jesus declared in Matthew 12:36,37 - "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Friends, we must always be attentive to our speech.

There is another aspect of this subject upon which I want us to consider. If Christians (especially preachers) are not careful with their words, the message of Christ and His church can get lost in unnecessary wordiness. I know there are some difficult things recorded in God's word; Peter affirmed as much in II Peter 3:16. However, that does not mean everything in the Bible is difficult to understand. The gospel message is basically quite simple. It is elementary enough that anyone with average intelligence can understand it, realize they are subject to it, and respond to it (if they so desire). However, humans are often quite proficient at making simple things unnecessarily complicated.

If I tried to read the document on cabbage pricing, I suspect I'd get lost somewhere along the way. It'd be difficult for me to wade through that many words on such a subject. One might speculate that a document on that topic could be adequately covered in substantially fewer words, especially since God used so few words to communicate matters that are infinitely more important than pricing vegetables.

Friends, have you ever listened to a sermon carefully from beginning to end and had difficulty following the speaker's main idea or thoughts? If so, perhaps you got lost in unnecessary wordiness on the part of the preacher. Maybe he made the message more complicated than it needed to be.

All teachers and preachers of the word should endeavor to be as brief as they can be and yet still communicate thought-provoking, relevant lessons from God's word. If we don't do this, we are only making things more difficult and complicated than they need to be. May we use the words that we need to, but strive to be as brief as possible. May we never lose sight of the simplicity of the Master's mighty message by getting bogged down in unnecessary wordiness.