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06 February 2010

Words spoken in Haste

Proverbs 29:20, "Seest thou a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than him." (KJV)

I realize that I did previously say that I was going to look at the virtuous woman passage of Proverbs 31 yet I have decided to change my mind at the last minute (not something terribly unusual for me) and write about something else. This issue has been impressed upon me heart for the last month - words spoken in haste.

What does it mean to speak in haste?
The Hebrew word that is translated hasty in Proverbs 29:20 is a verb meaning “to press or urge”. Furthermore hasty in words means to speak pressingly or with urgency. I can say that there have been times in my life when I have spoken too hastily; I have said “I love you” before I should; I have given advice based on feelings; and I have lashed out in anger, frustration and hurt. In my life the following words of Spurgeon ring only too true:

"Hasty words are but for a moment on the tongue, but they often lie for years on the conscience."

Why do we, Christians, speak in haste?
I believe that it primarily has to do with the flesh - we are saved by God through Jesus and are therefore positionally “seated with Him in Heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6) yet conditionally we still sin. God sees us positionally righteous (praise the Lord!) yet while on this earth we must contend with the flesh. Hasty words are an expression of the flesh and should be hateful to us.

Galatians 5:16-18 says "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law." (RSV)

So, how do we stop speaking in haste?
There are two things, the second which builds upon the first:
First is to be walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). George Müller learned the secret of walking by the Spirit: meditate on the precious truths of the Word of God until your heart is happy in God, resting in his promises.
Secondly, James 1:19 says, "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Being “slow to speak” is the exact opposite to speaking pressingly or with urgency. Practically speaking I believe its all about getting into the habit. Wait before you speak and consider the effects of what you are going to say. Then, if you don’t have anything to say that is constructive or edifying, don’t say anything at all!

Is this hard? Of course it is! Its war! We are warring against the flesh! Will you fail? Yes, you will fail, but don't loose heart, we have a faithful Lord who will not leave us or forsake us.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)

The most important thing is to keep your heart with all diligence... read the Word, delight and rest in His promises, pray that God would do the work, have the glory and impart to us the strength to be a James 1:19 Christian.

Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence: for out of it are the issues of life."


  1. This is so good, Laura. It was very challenging to me. It reminds me of this quote I recently read in "Home-Making" by J.R. Miller (a lovely old book from the 19th century):

    "Words seem little things, so fleeting and evanescent that apparently it cannot matter much of what sort they are. They are so easily spoken that we forget what power they have to give pleasure or pain. They seem so swiftly gone that we forget they do not go away at all, but linger either like barbed arrows in the heart where they struck, or like fragrant flower distilling perfume. They seem so powerless for good or ill, and we do not remember that they either tear down or build up fair fabrics of joy and peace in the souls of those to whom we speak."

    Thank you for sharing, dear friend!

  2. I really liked the Spurgeon quote, then I read this one! Thank you Laura for sharing this, it is convicting. We do need to realise that God calls for us to be holy in every area of our lives however small or great we see them. God bless Laura, and thank you Meredith for the quote.



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