In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.
(Proverbs 14:23 ESV)
The proverb above is one I have always associated with one particular type of talk: talking about what you’re going to do instead of doing it.
I think that this aspect is true, but incomplete. I have overly limited the meaning of talk.
Here are forms of talk that are justifiably included under this heading because they replace labor and thus prevent profit:
- Being critical of others to the neglect of self-reflection or self-improvement
- Being a whiner, complainer, or malcontent
- Making excuses and being a wimp (we’re all going to die anyway)
- Talking about other people’s accomplishments without accomplishing anything yourself
- Talking about how other people messed up your life
- Talking about what you would do if only you had this or that
- Talking about theology instead of praying, reading Scripture, learning Greek/Hebrew, or putting the words of Jesus into practice.
- Talking about what other churches do wrong instead of fixing your own church
- Complaining about your neighbors instead of ordering your own household or picking up garbage when you go for a walk
- Complaining about the government without knowing local politician’s names or platforms or voting
- Preaching sermons but not praying, meditating, or otherwise attending to matters of personal spiritual care
- Having endless meetings at work but doing no work
- Being a part of dozens of Bible studies but not studying for your calling
- Being a part of dozens of Bible studies but not memorizing or reading any of the Bible
- Talking about your crush and never asking him/her out
I’m sure that this isn’t comprehensive, but I hope it helps.
Any other aspects of “mere talk” that distract from actual labor and therefore from profit?