Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28
Recently, I heard about something absurd another person said. It didn’t involve me, but still, I was irritated and spent a fair amount of energy planning what I was going to say this person or to anyone who would listen. Having some previous experience with the destructive nature of my impulsive, foolish tongue though, I had a sudden mature thought. Before I erupt, perhaps I should check on this thing – that I heard from somebody who heard it from somebody else.
It was an easy thing to look into and in the end, all of my anger was for nothing. My offense was the absurdity as I found that the original statement was completely different than I had been led to believe. Had I run my mouth as planned, I would have sparked a fire that I couldn’t take back.
Impulsivity is a common flaw in the addict. Our destructive, thoughtless behavior is not confined to drugs. Our addiction is but a symptom of a greater problem. We feel and then we just do, usually without thinking of consequences. This may have led to tremendous misery in the past, but in the moment, the impulsive fool has a hard time applying painful lessons.
Today’s passage teaches that one way the fool can pursue wisdom is simply to shut his mouth. I’ve found this to be profoundly true. Frankly, my first instinct is usually completely wrong. If I can just bite my tongue for one minute and ask myself – What would a mature, thoughtful, wise person do in this situation? – I can save myself a mountain of misery.
In my home, at work and in my church, if I can just close my lips and take time to turn my mind from me to what is right, then I turn from foolishness and misery to wisdom and faith. When I take time to think through what I should say – instead of what I want to say – I avoid the folly of my impulsive tongue.