Brevity is the soul of the soul

One of my flaws as a writer is that I tend towards being prolix. In my career, I also tended to talk too much. Over the years, however, I learned the wisdom of the adage, “less is more.” I also learned, the hard way, that it is ever so much easier to write many words than to write few words on any given topic.

My writing today may not be much better, but I do at least try to use fewer words. All along, I ignored some rather specific pieces of guidance from God on the subject of words, and I wish I had taken them to heart a lot sooner than I did. The first is from our Lord, and is blunt:

Let what you say be simply “Yes” or “No”; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:37)

This is in the context of not swearing falsely, but seems rather good advice all around. Just imagine if everyone spoke the plain truth, no embellishment. Think of all the politicians, lawyers, and salesmen who’d be out of work. Not to mention quite a few pundits, and, who knows, a preacher or two.

The second piece of guidance concerns words used in prayer, and in Matthew 6:7, Jesus warns us to “not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” In this, the Lord restates advice given by His Father to the Preacher, who tells us in Ecclesiastes 5:2:

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Think on this the next time you sit through some unending liturgy or sermon, and, with charity, pray that the author of too many words will take this advice to heart.

Myself not excluded.

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