In their 'Bible in One Year' reading plan, Nicky and Pippa Gumbel quote Sir Isaac Newton as saying "I find intelligence is better spotted when analyzing the questions asked rather than the answers given". The Gumbels go on to say: "Often, those who know most speak least. When we are talking, we are usually merely repeating what we already know. When we are listening, we may learn something new." Epictetus said “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
With these quotes in mind I'd like you to ask yourself, "do I talk too much?". When others are talking to you, are you really listening and processing what they are saying or are your thoughts occupied with preparing your next statement? When you walk away from a conversation, do you recall much of what the other person said, or can you only bring to memory your own words? If you answered yes to the last two questions, then the answer to the first question is yes, you talk too much.
Don't feel bad if you just found out that you are a blabber-mouth, it's a very common condition. The good news is that it is treatable and will just take some discipline on your part to correct it. Begin your recovery by being diligent in your interactions with others so that you are listening more than talking. You can start this right now! You will be surprised at how much you will learn. You might see an improvement at work when you have better communication with your co-workers. Children will probably receive far fewer reprimands when they actually pay attention to what their parents are saying (and then DO what they say). Married couples will probably even save themselves a few arguments. The kind that usually start with something like "you never told me...". And imagine how much more effectively you can share the gospel to the lost if you aren't so concerned about hearing yourself talk, but actually get to know them and listen to what they are going through.
The fact is that most relationships in your life will improve when you "listen twice as much as you speak". This is especially true in your relationship with Jesus. We would be very wise to do more listening than talking when it comes to our walk with Him. Proverbs 1:5 says "A wise [man] will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,". If we are honest, most of us spend a tremendous amount of prayer time talking but very little, if any, listening. We ask for guidance, but don't hang around long enough to hear the "wise counsel" that He has for us. Jesus said in John 10:27: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." When we do more listening than talking, we will become very familiar with the voice of God and this will keep us from many poor decisions and missed opportunities. God probably has a lot to say to us that we are missing out on. We ought to allow for some quiet listening time when we pray. We also have the printed Word of God that we can go to for answers and guidance. Praying and then reading/studying scripture will fill you with wisdom and guide your paths.
How much wise counsel and guidance are we robbing ourselves of because we talk too much? Do yourself a favor and start listening more and talking less. You will be amazed at what you will learn. You will be blessed with stronger relationships. You will begin walking more closely to the Lord than ever before and you will become a more effective witness for Jesus.
Patrick A. Thomson