“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”
Have you ever been in a conversation with a girlfriend, just innocently shooting the breeze about this or that? Then the chat turns to venting – an inconvenience here, a one-sided relationship there, a strong yet unnecessary opinion about someone or something.
And then it happens – is it safe to say that each of us has done this or heard this at least once in their adult life?
“I shouldn’t be telling you this but…”
“…wait. I probably shouldn’t be saying this… okayiwill…”
or, the ever-famous line from the South:
“Bless her heart, I love her to death, but…”
Why is it that we just can’t keep our mouths closed sometimes? Be it in a conversation with a friend that turns ugly into gossip before we know it, or in talking with a person we should be hearing, but we just want to be heard. We flap our jaws with idle chatter, ignorant opinions and destructive talk all day long.
Well, maybe you don’t. But the Holy Spirit still catches me on this more often than I’d like to admit.
Some of the people I respect the most are the ones who say the least. They’re the ones who pause for a moment when you ask them a question before they respond. They’re the ones who (unlike me, I’m afraid), are comfortable with long pauses and don’t jump to fill the air with any word that will make noise.
Carefully chosen words.
Being slow to speak and quick to listen.
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
when he closes his lip, he is deemed intelligent”
Yes, these verses are about behavior more than they are about our hearts – at least at first glance. Act this way, and you will be wise. Or at the very least, you won’t be a fool, right?
But the Bible isn’t about teaching us to act a certain way, is it? The whole book of Proverbs isn’t about about showing us the right way to behave.
“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NASB)
So. Taping my mouth shut isn’t going to get me into Heaven. Though it will probably get me into a lot less trouble.
Being slow to speak isn’t just about being wise or foolish – it’s about obedience. Our behavior is borne from our love for Christ. He has shown us how to live wisely, and we obey his instructions because we fear him.
Have you even spoken when you should have remained silent? How did that get you into trouble? What would have happened if you hadn’t said anything?
Have you ever kept quiet when you really wanted to speak? How did that go for you?
What other verses in chapter 17 struck you today? (interesting to see verse 5 bring us back to 14:31! And verse 14 – I love that word picture!)
Remember: Grace Days
Saturday: SheShares – link up to your tweets, instagrams and blog posts to share what God is doing in your life through #SheReadsTruth
Sunday: Rest. Catch-up day, or other form of study in Proverbs or elsewhere.
Monday: Chapter 18