Swift to speak, slow to hear?

I was recently translating French for a class and came across this sentence: “On ne donne rien si liberalement que ses conseils,” Maximes, 100. It essentially translates to “Nothing is given as liberally as advice.” As I thought about this, I was initially amused. People really are quick to give advice. As a new parent, I have had numerous people give me advice and suggestions about being a parent. In general, people are not bashful about giving advice and counsel to others.

Then, I thought about this from a biblical perspective. Should we be quick to give others advice and counsel? I think the answer to this question is “no.” Now, I am not saying that Christians should never give advice to others, but I am saying that we should be cautious about frivolously tossing our opinions around. The Bible warns against quick and careless speech.


James said, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). James warns about speaking quickly here. Instead, we should listen first and speak after we have thought about the situation.


Jesus warned against careless speech in Matthew’s gospel. He said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). Since we will be held accountable for every word we say, we should be cautious about what we say and avoid careless speech.

In short, Christians should not throw advice around liberally. Instead, they should think and pray about what to say and when to say it. There is certainly a time and a place for Christians to advise and counsel others, but there are also times for Christians to remain silent. Let me close with Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

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