I had a habit of going off on tangents, especially in expository writing. I kept making asides, ideas that had nothing to do with my main point. “You are confusing people,” she said. “Your main point is coming across as one of several in a list instead of something vital. If those other things are that important, make a whole new essay about each of them. If they aren’t important enough for that, they certainly aren’t important enough to ruin what is important.”
I have tried to follow that advice for nearly forty years now. It is a lesson speakers need as well. While tutoring home-schoolers, preachers “in training,” and a few “full-fledged” preachers with their writing, I have finally come up with the perfect analogy. Grab a can of orange juice concentrate and read the directions. Pour the concentrate into the pitcher and add three cans of water. Guess what happens if you add more than three cans? You dilute the juice, and the more you add the weaker it gets. Before long you just have orange-colored water.
When you have a point to make and use too many words to say it or drown it in a sea of words that do not apply, you weaken your point. A short pithy statement will stay in people’s minds long after they finish reading (or listening).
The same thing is true in life. When we need to rebuke someone don’t we add all sorts of extra words to soften the blow? Often that is a good idea. Just the right amount (three cans) can help someone listen to what they need to hear. But sometimes we add so many that they go away agreeing with us, never realizing it was them we were talking about. What was that statement Nathan made to David? “Thou art the man.” Four little words pierced David’s heart to the core. We often forget to say that part, not because we are wise and loving, but because we are cowards, not loving enough to say what needs to be said.
Then there is this sad fact of life: the more you talk, the more likely you are to put your foot in your mouth. That is why I try not to judge preachers, elders, and Bible class teachers. Their job is to talk. Inevitably something will come out wrong. Be kind in your assessments.
Be careful out there. The more you talk, the more likely you are to hurt someone, the more likely you are to embarrass yourself (and your spouse), and the more likely you are to sin with your tongue. But when the time comes to speak, be careful not to add too much water to the juice out of fear, but just the right amount to help someone find his way back to the Lord. God wants pure orange juice Christians. If He will spew out lukewarm Christians, surely He will spew out the orange-colored water Christians as well.
Be not rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven and you upon earth: therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with a multitude of business, and a fool's voice with a multitude of words, Eccl 5:2,3.