Talking Just for Talking’s Sake

by Lester Young

“He was babbling and did not know what he was saying…” That ever happen to you?

That piece of text is from The Voice translation of Mark 9:6, the account of when Jesus was transfigured in front of His disciples, Peter, James and John:

“And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter, and James, and John, and led them up into a high mountain apart by themselves: and He was transfigured before them. And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; like no launderer on earth could whiten them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to say; for they were exceedingly afraid” (Mark 9:2-6).

Again, The Voice closes this passage by saying that Peter “was babbling and did not know what he was saying because they were [all] terrified by what they were witnessing” (verse 6). Extremely afraid, terrified… as in ‘frightened out of one’s wits’. You know, maybe it’s just me, but whenever I read this story I can’t help but wonder to myself, “Um, why, then, was he talking at all? Nobody’d even said anything to him.”

Now, I realize that nervous energy can often drive people into generally harmless nervous activity, such as biting their nails, shuffling their feet, keeping their hands in their pockets, prattling on at the mouth, etc. That being said, I think we all need to realize that last one named above is actually not quite as harmless as we give it credit for. And that’s because we typically don’t give much thought to just how powerful or authoritative the words of our mouth are. We rarely call to mind the fact that the Father God Himself has delegated the power of death and life into our lil’ ole tongues (Proverbs 18:21).

I’m quite certain Peter meant no harm by what he said; in fact, the words he spoke don’t really seem to have meant very much at all. So, no harm, no foul, right? Wellll…. maybe not so fast on that assessment. Recall what Jesus said in Matthew 12:34-37: “…Out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things. But I tell you, on the Day of Judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, nonworking, useless) word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned and sentenced” (Amplified).

So, according to our Lord, there are only three categories under which our words will be cataloged – and two of those three don’t seem to bode very well at all. I think we can all agree that the ‘good words of a good heart’ are those which are filled with the faith and love of God; i.e., God’s words, His promises, words of blessing (Hebrews 11:6). And it’s not too difficult to identify the opposite category as words carrying fear, doubt and unbelief (2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:15, 3:12,19; 1 John 4:18).

But that third group, the “idle” words – what’s so bad about them?? They’re not necessarily good, bud they’re not necessarily bad, either. So, what real harm are they? Well, we have to remember that words – all words – are spiritual containers (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 4:13; 2 Timothy 1:7). God uses them to create and to change things, and none of His words are ever useless (Genesis1:3; John 1:1-4; Matthew 5:18). And if we’re made in His image so that we can operate in this world the same way He does, all of our words should be just as purposeful, faithful and powerful as His (1 John 4:17)… which means we should be speaking only words from Him – just like Jesus did, and does (John 3:34, 5:30, 8:28).

So, looking back at Peter’s response in that moment – even though to the natural human mind it might seem to have been worshipful, respectful and totally harmless – according to the Scriptures his words could not have been pleasing to God because they weren’t produced by faith. They were pressed out of him by fear, making them – at worst – “evil” words (Mark 2:6; Hebrews 3:12, 11:6; Revelation 21:8). At best, you might try to slip them into the ‘Idle’ category, but even there they’d be characterized as ineffective and useless in helping to further God’s Kingdom here on earth, and therefore by default they would provide an opportunity for the enemy to snatch them up for his purposes. How did I come to that conclusion? Because Jesus said, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad” (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23) In other words, as far as the Lord’s concerned, there really is no middle ground.

What to do, then? Firstly, consider your words precious, because they are. Secondly, consider them to be powerhouses, because they are. They have the power of life and death in your own circumstances (Proverbs 18:21). If you find yourself confronted by a certain situation, don’t be crowded and pushed and hurried into speaking – especially if you don’t know what to say. That’s exactly what the enemy tries to get us to do, to pressure us into a hurried, unthoughtful, unwise and bad response with our words. Instead, do what Jesus did when they brought to Him the woman who was caught red-handed, right in the act (ya’ll know what I mean), and they pressed Him for an immediate answer of judgment. Well, he just squatted down waiting and writing on the ground until He heard from His Father exactly what to say (John 8:3-7).

God has promised He’ll give us that same kind of Wisdom whenever we need it (James 1:5-6). So none of us should ever have to resort to “talking just for talking’s sake” – I mean, who want’s to have to deal with a Court date and a per-word penalty? (Matthew 12:36-37) And besides, Jesus finds ‘lukewarmness’ quite disagreeable; He’d actually prefer that we pick either one side or the other (Revelation 3:15-16) – and when all’s said and done, that’s reason enough for me.

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2 Comments to “Talking Just for Talking’s Sake”

  1. I have dealing with this issue myself and grateful for your teaching. Words do need to be measured carefully

    • You’re very welcome, Sandra…I don’t think any of us actually have this ‘Wisdom in speaking’ thing completely down pat yet. We can all benefit from a time-out every now and then. As always, thanks for stopping by..


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