“Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.” – Ecclesiastes 10:20.
Our words are the most powerful tools given to us. At their best, they can praise, affirm, build, and motivate a person. At their worst, they can destroy (Proverbs 11:9).
On a bigger scale, we have read or probably seen, in the course of our history, how wars and conflicts began – through words of dehumanisation and hatred against another race or nationality.
On a smaller, more personal scale, how we use our words could either build stronger relationships with others or cost us trouble.
Ecclesiastes 10:20 tells us metaphorically, that the walls have ears. This bible verse warns us about the dangers of speaking ill against the one who has authority over us, for instance, our government, our bosses, and even our church leaders or brethren. Even if you curse anyone of them in secret, someone might hear and then tell them.
In the days of the monarchs, such behaviour could cost you your head. In our modern context, we could lose our freedom and respect due to the lack of responsibility over our words (especially if we criticise our government or leaders).
In the context of our faith, speaking ill of another brethren in church (in privacy) is to sow the seeds of discord that will most likely affect the unity of the body of Christ.
“Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” – Luke 12:2-3.
“The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.” – Proverbs 25:23.
The bible also advised us against the use of careless words and even gossips. God even warns us against associating ourselves with gossipers and slanderers as these people tend to use their words foolishly and irresponsibly.
“You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbour: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:16.
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” – Proverbs 11:13.
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.” – Proverbs 20:19-20.
“There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst.” – Ezekiel 22:9.
“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.” – Proverbs 10:18.
Careless words could bring calamity to us. Therefore, this verse teaches us a valuable lesson, that is, we ought to think before we speak.