Apologetics Tip #4: Get to the Point

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“When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent”
Prov. 10:19, ESV

Apologists and old blades all have this in common: we rarely get to the point. Proverbs cautions us against verbal excess saying: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Prov. 10:19, ESV). This point on pointedness is two fold: (1) don’t waste words, and (2) don’t get lost in other people’s wasted words. Wasting words weakens their force. Have you ever known someone who talks all the time? You know how constant blathering dulls speech. Stated positively, economy of words apportions more weight to those words. Regarding listening (Tip#2 Listen), we should listen searchingly. We are searching for motivations driving this person’s objections, as well as the values he or she holds strongest. If you find that this person values compassion more than justice, you can better phrase your response in terms of compassion so that person will better appreciate what you are saying. When we take too long to get to the point, our words sound pointless, we waste our time and theirs, and we lose the aptitude and wit of a well-turned phrase. After all, “brevity is the soul” or essence “of wit,” (Shakespeare, Hamlet, 2.2.90).

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