In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
A simple rule of wisdom is to cut your words in half. Many words and much speaking greatly raise the chance of sinning with your lips. Because of this dangerous risk, wisdom teaches you to reduce your number of words and maintain silence longer than usual.
A wise man reflects soberly after speaking a great deal, for he remembers the grave warning of the first half of this proverb. If he spoke quite a few words, he has probably sinned in his speech and appears a fool (Eccl 5:3). In this context, silence is very golden.
The God of wisdom tells you to be faster to hear and slower to speak (Jas 1:19). If you emphasized listening and being skilful at that, you would have little time for talking. If you were slow and reluctant to speak, you would have an excellent spirit (Pr 17:27).
Wisely consider your words before you speak, rather than regret them after they are out. Even if you are not very bright, if you can reduce your words, those around you will assume you are wise – this is a rule from Solomon to boost your reputation (Pr 17:28).
Ah, dear reader, have you not wasted many painful hours reviewing words you spoke? Have you often said, “I wish I’d never said that,” or, “Why did I say that?” Such misery could be reduced, if you would simply refrain your lips from idle or foolish speech. If you would hold your tongue, you would not have to worry about words that escaped.
Wisdom is easy – cut your words in half. Talk less. The tongue is a fire, so douse its sparks by swallowing words (Jas 3:1-12). The tongue is deadly; use it slowly (Pr 18:21).
Words and sin are not an arithmetic, but a geometric, relationship. The words you add beyond necessary speech contain most of your verbal sins; those sins increase rapidly the more and longer you talk (Eccl 10:13). If you swallow those extra words that are unnecessary, easily half your words, you will stop many sins. Cutting your words by 50% will reduce your sins of speech by 90%! Wisdom is easy! Bridle your mouth (Ps 39:1)!
If children cut their words in half, there would be less foolishness, teasing of siblings, and dishonoring of parents. If wives did it, they would be less odious, contentious, and overbearing. If employees did it, managers would find their jobs much easier and production and unity would improve. If angry, bitter, and cruel people did it, there would be much less bleeding of wounded souls. If fools did it, they would be esteemed wise.
Of course, there are people who hardly ever speak, and this proverb does not apply to them. They need to use more words to be gracious and a tree of life to others. If they do not learn to speak, their lives will have little value for anyone, and they are a regular source of disappointment and frustration to others. True wisdom feeds many (Pr 10:21).