Lucia's Blog: KEEP YOUR HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

KEEP YOUR HEART WITH ALL DILIGENCE

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life."
Proverbs 4:23


The great love of God our Creator is a tough love. Because He loves us, He tells us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. The Old Testament books of wisdom such as the Proverbs are filled with seemingly ironic statements that tell us that the painful or unpleasant corrections of our behavior are good and pleasant, even bringing joy in the end. Let us ponder afresh some of the jewels that God has placed in the Book of Proverbs.

The central theme of the Book of Proverbs is "the Fear of the LORD."   It is mentioned fourteen times. The book focuses heavily on the consequences of our choices in life. The Proverbs reveal the grave consequences of rejecting wisdom.  "Good understanding giveth favor; But the way of the transgressor is hard." (Proverbs 13:15).  Moreover, the Book of Proverbs paints a picture of the huge contrast between the life of the wicked and that of the wise.  He who pursues wisdom will preserve his soul, (Prov. 16:17); longevity of life, (Proverbs 9:11); happiness, (Proverbs 17:22; 28:14; 29:18); satisfaction, (Proverbs 19:23); riches, honor, and life, (Proverbs 22:4, 29); he is less likely to experience troubles,  (Proverbs 19:23; 21:23). The wise will avoid worldliness and lawlessness at all cost.  
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life." (Proverbs 4:23). 
"As a troubled fountain, and a corrupted spring, So is a righteous man that giveth way before the wicked."  (Proverbs 25:26)
Likewise, one of the focal points of this precious book is:
  1. To make us wise,"To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.” 
  2. To teach us how to conduct ourselves wisely and righteously.
  3. “To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity."  
  4.  To learn how to treat others with equity and fairness.
  5.  To give to the ignorant, common sense and understanding.
  6. To the simple (naive), “prudence.”   
  7. To the young man sound advice,“knowledge and discretion.”  
  8. Wise men more wisdom,“ increase learning.”   
  9. And men of understanding, "wise counsel."  
The Book of Proverbs is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it is a treasure of practical wisdom, inspired by our Creator God. As I read each proverb, I have to pause, read it again slowly and reflect on its beautiful words of wisdom.  This precious book is like medicine that cures my soul. God's Words guide us to the remedies for a better life and spiritual health forever.  His Words bring life and healing to my soul!  Proverbs is like a medicine, in that it teaches us the general health and value of a pleasant outlook and attitude toward life.  Joy is a command for Christians, (Phil. 4:4; I Thess. 5:16), but sin is the laughter of fools, (Eph. 5:4; Eccl. 7:6).   Folly is not medicine; jesting is no balm. Both are perverse and destructive. Solomon called them madness, (Eccl. 2:2; 10:13). Proverbs do not teach us a foolish or na├»ve approach to life. It promises blessings for joy, which are both a spiritual fruit and a commandment.  It condemns the negative, critical, and ungrateful heart. Sin destroys a merry heart, for a child of God can never be happy when he is not in fellowship with His Father.  Discontent ruins one's  health, for all one thinks about is what he does not have.  Envy, bitterness, lust, resentment, or anger in one's life, brings the judgment of God and will cause serious health problems to our souls.  On the other hand a joyful, thankful, forgiving and praising heart will find God's blessings and a therapeutic (healing) balm for our souls. 

Our God is the Great Physician who prescribes what we so desperately need to renew our minds and be cured, (Romans 12:2).  Therefore, I am resolved not to neglect His healing prescription for me. His prescription gives me the keys to a better and more righteous life now and forever!  Healing depends greatly on heeding God's Word and standing firm in His principles of righteousness.  But we need to keep our tongue in line with what God says about our healing.  The purpose of my study is to help you, as well as myself, to stay in line with the great final Message that heals us.  I have selected a few Proverbs for us to consider and meditate on, that we may keep our hearts with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.

I.   “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”   (Proverbs 10:19)
A straightforward and useful rule of wisdom is to cut our words in half. In many words and much speaking, there is a great danger of sinning with our lips. God's wisdom instructs us to abate our words and keep silent as much as possible. He who is wise reflects soberly before he utters any words. He is conscious of the warning that we restrain our words wisely. He knows it is easy to sin when words are many, and transgression is not lacking. A fool never learns this, (Eccl. 5:3). You see silence is very golden. Our God, the God of wisdom, advises us to be quick to hear, and slow to speak, (Jas 1:19). When one exercises his listening skills, he talks little. The wise man has learned to restrain his words to acquire knowledge. Thus, he is a man of gentle spirit and understanding. So why not be wise and consider your words before you speak? You will regret what came out of your lips, sooner or later. Review your words before they're spoken!

Remember, that once words are spoken, you can never take them back. The fool often says, “I wish I’d never said that,” or, “Why did I say that?” Do you know that you can save yourself from such misery? Then learn to limit your words and refrain your lips from idle and foolish speech. Hold your tongue! You won't have to regret or worry about the words that escaped your mouth. Learn prudence and wisdom. Cut your words in half. Talk less and don't sin. Remember, the tongue is a deadly fire, (Jas 3:1-12). Therefore, be slow to speak and when you speak, speak wisely, (Prov. 18:21). Words and sin are not simple math; they are a geometric phenomenon. In too much talk, there is folly, and in the end, there is wicked madness, (Eccl 10:13). You may stop many sins when you cut out the unnecessary words (half of your words). Reducing your words by 50% can help reduce your sins of speech by 90%! Wisdom is easy! Bridle your tongue, and put a muzzle on your mouth, (Ps. 39:1)! If angry, bitter, and cruel people cut their words, there would be much less bleeding of wounded souls. When fools do it, they are esteemed wise. Remember gracious words are a tree of life to others. "The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding." (Prov. 10:21). Therefore, hold back, mind your words, restrain your impulse from speaking your mind. It is a wise reminder for all of us, that we not be rash in our speech.

II.   “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”  (Proverbs 11:2)
The arrogant, conceited or haughty man makes costly mistakes that bring him shame.  His pride distorts his ability to think wisely. But a humble and prudent man can clearly see right and wrong, truth and error, wisdom and folly.  He knows that greatness depends on getting rid of all pride.  He who is lowly and meek in heart makes wise choices.  Pride is a terrible thing!  It will cost more than any other character fault. Conceit deceives one into folly, bringing shame upon himself.  But humility leads to wisdom, which protects him from folly and disgrace.  Pride destroys one's soul disgracefully and shamefully before all men. Humility and meekness lift us before God and men.

There is nothing worse than a proud fool.  There is little hope for a fool, but there is no hope for an arrogant fool. In his arrogance, he will refuse any instruction or correction.  Pride blinds men. They will reject wisdom to avoid trouble and shame. They resent being taught or corrected by others. They are overconfident. They rush onward with an inflated opinion of their own thoughts and ideas. Pride brings folly, which brings shame.  Why not hate pride and arrogance and listen to wise counsel?!   Fearing God requires one to hate pride and arrogance.  Pride causes you to think you are important and makes you believe that your own thoughts and opinions are always right. Pride resents correction and instruction. Pride envies the advantages, abilities, or honors of others. Pride ignores the wise counsel of others. Pride looks down on others.   Some think that their opinions deserve an audience with everybody and that they can speak on any issue without a second thought.  Pride and disgrace are present here.   In God’s sight, you are nothing, and less than nothing, (Ps. 39:5; 62:9; 113:6; Isa. 40:17). You are a worm before Him, (Job 25:6). You are a mere creature whose breath is in your nostrils (Isa. 2:22).  God hates the proud, and He will crush them like a moth and melt them like wax, (Pr. 6:16-17; Ps. 39:11; 68:2). Wisdom learns to love God's Truths.  

In today's culture pride is exalted and promoted by calling it self-esteem or self-confidence.  It is taught as the cure for man’s problems. Books and songs are sold about looking out for number one, about self-love as the greatest love of all. Social media is considered nearly necessary and vital for life, though it is little more than narcissistic conceit.  You must root pride out of your own soul. Pride causes strife because proud men will fight to defend their ideas, (Pr. 13:10; 21:24; 28:25). They cannot stoop to serve others unless it serves them best. And they will not admit mistakes to God or men. Such a path will lead man to foolish decisions and stubborn rebellion with horrible consequences, destruction, and shame. Lowliness is wisdom. The humble man does not trust his knowledge or motives, for he trembles before God and His Word.  He appreciates and esteems the advice or counsel of others; takes correction cheerfully, quickly confesses mistakes, and changes his life accordingly. He will be blessed. Humility is the only road to wisdom, which saves a man from trouble and shame, but only the lowly ever find it. The proud are blind to true wisdom because of their conceit, and the jealous God of heaven will keep them blind.   He will only bless His humble children with wisdom, (Matt. 11:25-27). God will never bless a man who has a proud spirit, (Pr. 16:5). He draws near to men who have a humble spirit, (Isa. 57:15; 66:2; I Pet. 5:5-6). If you choose pride, God will resist you and humble you painfully, (Pr. 16:18; 18:12). If you choose humility cheerfully, God will raise you up gloriously, (Luke 14:11).  Jesus is our greatest example of humility and wisdom. He despised the shame of His humility, (Heb 12:2). But God has now highly exalted Him far above all principalities and powers, (Phil. 2:9-11; Eph. 1:20-23).  He is worthy of all your praise and adoration. Let Him be your glory and worship. Do not glory in yourself!!  

III.   “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”  (Proverbs 11:12)

The way one talks about others reveals his character and heart.  Many fall into sin quickly with their words when they despise those around them.  They cannot hold their peace from critical and negative criticism, judgment, remarks, opinions and comments about others.  A wise and righteous man is moved by compassion, mercy, and kindness along with prayer toward his neighbor even when he is mistreated. He does not despise or scorn his neighbor.   God's counsel warns us against backbiting or insulting our neighbor.  He who is wise and righteous does not belittle others.  He restrains the sneering words that only fools (wicked men) are hasty to utter.  Nothing can justify contempt of one toward another.  Period!  God condemns talebearing (a verbal sin, Prov. 11:13).  Talebearing is telling everything or anything about another person that will hurt his name.  Although it might be true, it is not helpful to their reputation.  It is a sin!

Indeed, speech reflects one's wisdom or lack of it.  A man's mouth reveals his inner heart, (Luke 6:45).  One's words show wisdom or folly, (Eccl 5:3). Cut your words in half, the evil half. Speak less, even if it hurts!  God abhors evil speech about others.  He likewise, condemns backbiting, contempt, disputes, hatred, malice, malignity, railing, reviling, slandering, swelling, talebearing, whispering and other related sins. God will not accept unkind or hateful speech about another. Period! Loving our neighbor is the second greatest commandment, (Matt 22:39).  Loving our enemies is a similar commandment, (Matt. 5:43-48). So, you have no right to hate or speak evil of others.  It is said, “If you cannot say anything nice about them, then do not say anything at all.” That is wisdom!   A cure for this evil habit is to avoid despising others in your heart, “Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber.” (Eccl 10:20). Even if you must correct another overtaken in a fault, you should do it meekly and fearfully, (Gal. 6:1; II Tim. 2:25; Jas 3:13; I Pet. 3:15). Neither authority nor truth justifies cruelty.  Show yourself a child of the King and Lord!!  Why not have mercy and overlook the faults of others?  Remember God has forgiven you when you didn't deserve it.  He has been very patient with you.  He has pitied you like a good father pities his children, (Ps. 103:13-14).  So, why think so highly of yourself?!  Are you able to pity others, overlook their faults, and remember that God has forgiven you?  

Wicked pride and haughty conceit causes one to despise others, (Rom. 12:16). It is a shame and disgrace that those who love to despise others because of the “motes in their eyes,” are never wise enough to see the beams in their own eyes! (Matt. 7:1-5).  Take heed!

Truly there are those who provoke us until we despise them, but still, we must love them.  When Jesus was reviled and abused at His trial, He neither reviled nor threatened back, even when He could have easily and justifiably done so.  We must follow His steps, His example of kindness and mercy even when we are suffering wrongfully at the hands of others,  (I Pet. 2:18-24).  Those who lack sense will belittle others.  Who is the one that shows understanding? It is he who is silent. So simple, yet so difficult!

IV.   “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  (Proverbs 12:18)

This is a powerful verse!  It points out how one might be a great danger or a blessing to others.  Our speech can cause trouble, pain or healing to others.  He who is wise has learned to rule his tongue and is a blessing to others. When you end a conversation, do others bleed or grow? Do others love talking with you because it is pleasant and profitable? Or do they avoid you, because they fear harsh and painful words? Do others leave you bleeding? Do some of them encourage and help you? A man’s words reveal his heart, (Pr. 10:20; Matt. 12:34-37). Wise and righteous men instruct and train their mouths, adding learning to their lips, (Pr. 16:23).  They avoid the swords of others, (Pr. 9:7-8; 16:27; 21:19; 23:9).

You see death and life are in the power of the tongue, (Pr. 18:21). You can cut a person with your words, like the slash of a sword, or you can heal and nurture him with kind and pleasant words. Which are you best at? Which are you known for? Is your speech death or life to others?  The tongue is an unruly evil; it is a world of iniquity; it defiles the whole body; it sets on fire the course of nature; it is a fire from hell; it is full of deadly poison. Wild animals can be tamed and trained, but the tongue can never be tamed. The man who tames his tongue is a perfect man, mature and complete. God ignores modern self-esteem and condemns the unbridled tongue, (James 3:1-12). There are two kinds of persons and speech.  Those who only know harsh, hateful and mean words, and others who are always gracious.  Cutting and unkind speech reflect a bitter and hateful heart. Gentle and kind words reveal a happy and loving heart.  Your speech can either be destructive or healthful. There are no other options. Your words identify you!!  

Christians ought to speak with grace, seasoned with salt, that they may know how they ought to answer another, (Col. 4:6). Biting criticism, harshness, and sarcasm are wrong and sinful, (Eph. 4:31-32).  Christians ought to speak to others, as they want God to speak to them.  Our speech must be a tree of life to others, (Pr. 15:4), and it must reflect sweetness and health, (Pr. 16:24) and beauty, (Pr. 25:11).  Therefore, examine your speech.  Backbiting, slandering, whispering, and talebearing, produce deep, profound piercing wounds.  They must never be part of a Christians' speech, for they reflect an unfaithful heart, (Pr. 18:8; 26:22).  So if you hear someone who has the tendency to criticize others, assume he will criticize you to others.  Under no circumstances allow yourself to be the object of gossip, so avoid it.  Start saying good, kind, and appreciative things about others.  You will find many who would like to be your friends. Jesus declared harsh speech as murder, (Matt. 5:21-22). Anger and name calling without any valid reasons or holy purposes are violations of God's Word.  Foolish and unlearned questions, debate, railing, reviling, and answering back are all sins, (II Tim. 2:23; Rom. 1:29; I Pet. 3:9; Titus 2:9).  God demands that all Christians always speak with respect and honor to others, (I Tim. 6:1-2; I Pet. 3:7).  Be thoughtful when speaking, (Jas 1:19), examine your words carefully, (Pr. 15:28), and say them carefully, (Pr. 17:27-28). Be quick to hear and slower to speak to reduce your words, (Pr. 10:19).  So, if you want to be wise, speak as our Lord and Savior spoke.  Do not be rash, thoughtless or inconsiderate with your words!  Think before you speak and do not ignore godly behavior.

V.   “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.”  (Proverbs 12:23)

A wise man keeps his mouth shut, even when he knows more than anyone around him. A fool cannot keep his mouth shut, even when he basically knows nothing, for his heart demands that he keep spewing foolishness. The tongue, the bodily member by which one speaks, is a great source of evil and trouble.  Our words can hurt and harm another.  Our Ungodly speech defames our Lord.

A prudent man is wise. He knows when and how to be careful or cautious.  Although he has understanding and wisdom, he does not easily share it, for he keeps humility,  (Pr. 29:11).  He does not spread other's failures, for his love keeps him from doing it, (Pr. 11:13). He removes the beam from his own eye before he sees a mote in another's eye, (Matt. 7:5).  When he is faced with scorners, he does not waste his pearls, (Pr. 9:8; 23:9; Matt. 7:6).  A prudent man is mostly a reserved man, for he knows when to speak,  (Pr. 17:27-28). He does not impose his opinions here and yonder without others asking him for it. He is aware that there is sin in a multitude of words, so he cuts his words in half, (Pr. 10:19). He knows that it is better to listen than to speak, (James 1:19-20). This kind of prudent person is easy to spot in a crowd, for he will be carefully listening more than quickly talking.  On the other hand, a fool has a fire in his heart that sets his tongue ablaze! This fire comes from hell, (Jas 3:1-12).  A fool’s tongue is a world of iniquity.  He is also easy to spot in a crowd, for he cannot stop talking, and his words are obnoxious chattering of folly, (Eccl. 10:3,12-14). Jesus said that out of the heart come all of our words, (Luke 6:45).  A fool is always giving his opinion, though the hearers quickly realize he does not know what he is talking about, (Pr. 15:28). He must talk, so he continues to the confirmation of his vast ignorance. A fool will proclaim the failures of others, for he has no power to restrain his words. He must tattle and whisper. He is happy to tell anyone about the motes in their eyes and the eyes of others, even while the barn beams seriously clutter his face.  Jesus is our greatest example of prudence, (Isa. 52:13). He was, in no sense, a self-promoter, (Matt. 8:4; 16:20; 11:29; 12:18-21). He knew when to speak, and when not to speak, though knowing all things, (Isa. 50:4; John 2:24-25).  His perfect character was demonstrated by His wisdom and reservation.  Why not follow His godly example?!  I am grieved every time I see this ungodly behavior in social media like Facebook.  Many imprudent hearts reveal a lack of knowledge and wisdom. Thus they utter or say what they ought not to, rather than holding back.

VI.   “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”  (Proverbs 14:29)

I've noticed many are hot tempered and quick to get angry.  These are the marks of a fool.  A wise man gets his spirit under control and rules it.  A fool destroys his life along with his soul.  He who is wise has the self-control to rule his spirit, his mind.  He who cannot control his anger, says many foolish things he later regrets.   Why not be wise and slow down your anger?  Anger is not always wrong. God is angry at those who do lawlessness, (Ps. 7:11). The LORD was angry at Moses, (Deut. 1:37; 4:21), Solomon (I Kgs 11:9), and Israel (II Kgs 17:18).  It is not wrong to get angry at those who backbite others, (Pr. 25:23). But God is slow to anger, and He is our example and pattern, (Ps. 103:8; 145:8).

Paul told the Ephesian brethren to get angry without sinning and to get rid of anger before nightfall, (Eph. 4:26).  Anger that's held longer will indeed turn into bitterness.  It also opens the door to Satan, (Eph. 4:27). Jesus condemned anger “without a cause” as comparable to murder, (Matt. 5:21-22). Moses was angry at Israel for worshipping a golden calf with dancing,  (Ex 32:19-29). Our Lord Jesus Christ became angry at a crowd that did not want Him to heal a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day, (Mark 3:1-5). Anger against sin is good, and when directed by godliness can be an asset, (Neh. 13:23-28).

Anger is rarely profitable for any soul.  It usually causes overreaction, misreading circumstances, misjudging motives, actions without proper thought, responding more severely than needed, speaking with excessive harshness, rejecting counsel, and getting priorities out of line. Therefore, a wise man will not let his anger rule over him.  Wisdom has the power to judge righteously and with understanding.  Wisdom produces right judgment.  Understanding is correct knowledge. Both can be compromised relatively according to the intensity of anger.  The faster one gets angry, the less wisdom he possesses under the influence of that passion. The greater the intensity of anger, the less understanding one has under such consuming anger.   Hasty temper causes unnecessary fights and leads to many devastating sins, (Pr. 21:24; 26:21; 29:22; 30:33).  Quick anger is a common sin among many, (Pr. 14:17; 15:18; 16:32; 25:8,28; Eccl 7:8-9).   Hasty temper does not please God, (Jas 1:19-20). Christians are to be slow to anger, (Titus 1:7). A wise man will defer anger.  He will overlook personal offenses against him, (Pr. 19:11; Matt. 5:38-42).  Ruling one's spirit is vital to wisdom and success, (Pr. 16:32). Anger begins in the heart, which must be kept with all diligence, (Pr. 4:23). Kindness, longsuffering, and patience are essential to overcoming quick anger or hasty temper.  One must avoid angry men, for they will tempt you to be like them, (Pr. 14:7; 22:24; I Cor. 15:33).  So, are you hot tempered? Quick to get angry? These are marks of a fool. Get your spirit under control and keep it ruled, or you will destroy your life!  Great wisdom includes the self-control to rule your mind. If you cannot control your anger, you will say and do many foolish things.  Jesus, our Lord, is the perfect example.  He is the fullness of God in a human body, (Col. 2:9). His enemies could not provoke Him to anger.  Although they tried desperately to do so, He chose to be as a lamb at shearing, (Luke 11:53-54; 23:10; Isaiah 53:7; I Pet. 2:23).   Alas, I have seen this bad behavior in social media when people respond to a post right away (especially when they're angry), when they shouldn't!   It would be better to sleep on it and consider your words with more care.    

VII.   “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”   (Proverbs 15:1)

God loves and blesses peacemakers, (Matt. 5:9; Jas 3:17-18; II Cor. 13:11). It is such a blessing to be around peacemakers.  They end fights, grudges, and anger.  They are gentle in speech and calm the angry one.  The person who is wise is a peacemaker.  He uses calming words to end conflict and fighting.  He avoids foolish and destructive words that fuel the fire of anger.   He turns the other cheek, (Matt 5:38-42).  He loves his enemies, prays for them and does good to them,  (Matt. 5:39-43).  Anyone who puts this rule into practice (the golden rule) will be a peacemaker.  What a blessed rule, from the Prince of Peace!!

Indeed, it takes two to fight.  But when either party shows kindness, he can stop the fighting.  Peacemakers don't use provocative and offensive words when angry.  They know when to bring anger and contention to an end, (Pr. 17:14; 26:21).  The wise man ends peaceably any matter that causes anger by responding gently and kindly rather than with angry words in defense, (Pr. 12:16; 15:18; 29:22). He crushes his pride so that he may end peaceably, (Pr. 13:10; 21:24; 28:25).  So, why not apply this rule to all men?   Don't let your pride win over wisdom!   He who is wise and discreet is slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression, (Pr. 19:11).  Why not measure yourself by this rule of self-discipline and peacemaking?  Do you get irritated by others’ provocation? Must you respond to everything that is said about you? Do you have to get the last word always? Are you prone to self-justification rather than self-deprecation?  Remember that soft words are your most powerful weapon against any offense, (Pr. 25:15). Learn this wise habit! God loves peacemakers, (Matt. 5:9).  Jesus taught us to reconcile with those who offend us, (Matt. 5:23-26).  He also taught us to agree quickly with our adversary for peace. God’s Spirit is peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, (Jas 3:17-18).  Jesus even rebuked James and John for their ungodly spirit toward some Samaritans, (Luke 9:51-56). To please God, one must be a peacemaker, (Jas 3:13-18).  Kind and soft words can only come from a pure and gentle heart, (Pr. 22:11; Luke 6:45). Your gracious speech must be seasoned with salt like that of Jesus, (Col. 4:6; II Cor. 10:1).  So, why respond when you're angry?  Why not wait until you're calm and your mind is clearer, that you might respond with a softer answer?  

VIII.  “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”  (Proverbs 19:11)

The glorious person uses discretion from God's wisdom.  He defers and ignores any transgression committed against him.  He turns the other cheek, overlooks provocation, and chooses mercy over wrath. Discretion is the ability to know the right action for any occasion. Deferring is putting off, delaying, or postponing something. Godly discretion chooses to delay and postpone getting angry when someone offends us. It is the mark of a wise man, a gracious and gentle spirit. It is also the mark of Christian maturity, for only fools quickly strike back.  Those who have no discretion often use hostility, hurt others, get indignant, bite back, and plot revenge against those who offend them. They have no discretion since their feelings rule their hearts. They do not know deferment, for they react first, then think about it later. This is the mark of a proud and unyielding spirit, (Pr. 16:28; 28:25).  It is contrary to wisdom and grace. Anger is insanity.  Those who yield to it misjudge an offense and retaliate out of proportion, (Pr. 14:17). Once an offense is turned into warfare and strife, it is hard to end it, (Pr. 17:14; 18:19). Discretion is the wisest choice against any offense.  Anger not released will dissipate; it will soon evaporate. Often by the next day, one can hardly remember any offenses. Remember, two things are required:  deferment and keeping a spirit that rejoices to pass over offenses.  So, why not learn to defer your anger, (Pr 14:29)?  You must choose a spirit that glories in forgiving those who hurt you, by choosing the way of wisdom, peace, and love, (Pr. 17:9; I Cor. 13:4-7; Jas 3:17).

Do you know what’s not glory?  Biting and excoriating.  Therefore, swallow your anger! It tastes bitter, but it is good medicine.  The spirit that glories in quick retaliation or retribution is demonic, (Jas 3:14-16), and you should reject and despise it. Choose mercy, peace, and love instead. The transgressions here are personal offenses against you. It does not mean that one must compromise with sin.  The offenses here are the relatively minor transgressions of others that irritate and provoke us. This is true love and friendship.  Marriages observing this rule will be glorious. Churches practicing this rule will be mature in Christ.  Pride keeps a man from deferring anger. He thinks he must strike back in quick revenge to protect his hurt feelings. A proud fool speaks sharp words, criticizes without a cause, and throws blows.  God’s wisdom never changes.  The world does not know the wisdom of God.  It honors men who strike back quickly and harder.  It glorifies those who retaliate, retort and throw blows.  But God’s godly and wise children are those who love mercy and overlook personal offenses, ignoring their own hurt or loss, (Mic. 6:8; I Cor. 6:1-8). God will show mercy toward them and make them great like He did David for his treatment of Saul, (Ps. 18:19-26).  The Gospel teaches people forgiveness and mercy, for it is the cornerstone of our relationship with God and others, (Matt. 6:14-15; Eph, 4:31-32; Col. 3:12-13).  Indeed, it will require grace and godly character to overlook a personal offense instead of striking back in anger. Godly wisdom rules a hasty spirit, (Pr. 16:32; Jas 1:19-20). Fools think that passing over offenses is weakness, fear, and compromise.  God's glory constitutes mercy, grace, longsuffering, goodness, and Truth! So, how godly are you?  Do you get easily offended by how others treat you?  Do you show God's grace, Christ in you or do you defer anger or resentment?  Why not overcome evil with good?!  May the world see your good works of mercy and forgiveness that others may glorify our Father in heaven by your good works.

IX.   “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.”  (Proverbs 22:24)

Angry people are fools full of wrath. It is not godly, noble, or manly, no matter how hard they try to justify their anger.   Angry men are fools. Wise people avoid them at all costs.  They are aware of the risk of learning their wrong, hateful ways, for they will lead them to their souls' destruction, (Pr. 22:25; 13:20).  To have a peaceful life one must avoid them, for they will bring unceasing conflict, (Pr. 15:18; 19:19; 29:22). Angry people are slaves to their emotions.  The wise appreciate God's wisdom and are careful in choosing their friends.  The wise do not deceive themselves, for they know that evil communications corrupt good manners, (I Cor. 15:33). Angry men (people) will tempt you to learn angry habits and will cause you a lot of trouble.  Anger is in the bosoms of fools, (Eccl 7:9). Wise men defer anger, (Pr. 19:11).  They rule their spirits and are slow to anger, (Pr. 14:29). Why? Because they know that great men of God know how to rule their spirits and avoid anger, (Pr. 16:32).  They know that anger never helps them be righteous, or work the righteousness of God, (Jas 1:19). They know that angry haste will bring them shame, (Pr. 25:8).

Angry men often glory in their quick temper as a sign of manliness or toughness.  They are slaves to their passions, (Pr. 14:17,29). Since they cannot rule their spirits, they are like defenseless cities without walls – any slight event will trigger their total collapse and ruin, (Pr. 25:28).  Therefore, avoid angry men.  Jesus taught that anger without cause is murder in the sight of God,  (Matt. 5:21-22).  However, it is possible to be angry and not sin, (Eph. 4:26-27).  Fools sin every time they get angry, for they will not resolve their anger before the sun sets, (Eph. 4:26-27). By holding wrath and being angry often, they give place to the devil to enter their hearts and minds.  Their refusal to forgive others is one of Satan’s devices that allow him to take advantage of them, (II Cor. 2:7-11).  Full forgiveness will save one's soul, (Matt. 18:21-35). 

Rather than choosing angry men for friends or going places with furious, angry men, choose godly companions as your friends. True children of God do not get angry or furious. They are filled with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, (Gal. 5:22-23). Do these nine traits describe you? Do they describe your friends?  They should!!   

X.   “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.”  (Proverbs 23:9)

Truth and wisdom are precious privileges.  Fools do not deserve either (Wisdom or Truth), for they believe their own imagination, irrationalities, and lies.  Wisdom and Truth do not expose themselves to be ridiculed by fools.  Fools are often left to confusion in their folly because of their bad choices. Do you suppose my words are too harsh?  I don't think so!  Jesus, our Lord, did not think so. Why? Because Jesus told His disciples, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."  He told the disciples this when they said He had offended the Pharisees, (Matt. 15:13-14). Amen to that!

God's wise children do not waste precious pearls of Truth and God's wisdom on fools, for they will despise their incredible value and profit. Truth and wisdom are precious gifts, and to neglect or reject them brings judgment upon themselves. Just ask Lady Wisdom (Pr. 1:20-33)! The wise also avoid fools because of their wicked, lawless influence, (Pr. 9:6; 13:20; 14:7; 19:27).  Jesus also gave this rule or command in His Sermon on the Mount: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” (Matt. 7:6).  So, are you wise?  Are you aware of the danger of talking to a fool? You cannot win with words, for he will not listen or change, (Pr. 27:22). If you engage in debate (with a fool), you become a fool yourself, (Pr. 26:4). His foolish and unlearned questions will only cause fights (II Tim. 2:23). If you give him the Truth, he will despise it and trample it under his feet,  (Matt. 7:6).   Moreover, he will dishonor you when you correct him or reprove him.  He will insult and hate you. On the other hand, a wise person will love you for correcting him with the Truth, (Pr. 9:7-8; Matt 7:6). Be wise! Stay away from fools! Do not waste the Truth on them.  Choose the wise and godly for friends; those who fear God and keep His precepts, (Ps. 119:63).

So, what is a fool?  Foolishness overcomes a fool. He has his own ideas, misconceptions, prejudices, etc.  He trusts in them; he is past learning. He would rather talk than listen; he does what he wants regardless of instruction or warning. He does not show the noble spirit of the Bereans to eagerly hear and learn the Truth, searching the Scriptures to confirm it, (Acts 17:11; Tit. 3:10-11).   Thus, he will fall in his own ditch and wallow there.  A fool is one who does not want to hear, learn, and change.  Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge, (Pr. 14:7).  Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes and you be like him.  Say enough to shut his haughty mouth and condemn his folly, (Pr. 26:5), but do not expose God's precious Truth or yourself to his folly and malicious debating, (Pr. 26:4).  You will end up stooping to his level and honor his arrogance, risk your own soul, and dishonor the Truth.  Take heed!  The wise person heeds the rules of wisdom and forsakes the foolish ways that he might live, (Pr. 9:6; 19:27). Cast out the scorner, and enjoy the peaceful relief, for strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease, (Pr. 22:10). Prune away fools, and your life will blossom. They are evil nuisances that devour the spirit of the wise and degrade the integrity of God's Truth and Wisdom. Protect your soul by avoiding fools and their evil communications, (I Cor. 15:33)!

Unconditional friendship is unknown in the Bible. The Psalmist says, "I am a friend to all who fear You, to those who keep Your precepts." (Ps. 119:63) The modern man imagines that truly righteous people will not raise their voice against any sin no matter how vile. All "values" are equal in their eyes. But in the Bible, all men (mankind) are to be judged by their actions and character, not just their existence or natural relationships. Paul commands Titus to love what is good, (Titus 1:8). Even God does not accept His children unconditionally.  He has set conditions, rules.  He loves us because we are in Christ. "In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, ... grace that he favored us with in the Beloved."  (Eph. 1:4-6). "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her..."  (Eph. 5:25-27). David took drastic measures to get fools out of his house, (Ps. 101:1-8; I Kgs 2:5-6).  

Jesus is not like men today.   Why?  Because a compromising generation assumes that all men have a right to make the Truth what they want it to be.  Fools today compromise the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus by sugar coating the whole counsel of God and using carnal tactics to make the church grow in number. The wise and faithful  men of God preach the Truth at full volume.  Many don't want to preach the whole counsel of God for it condemns their philosophical versions of the Gospel Message. They do not love the pure Gospel of Christ.  They alter its content by using new psychology, programs, that entice men as false teachers do today.  Jesus said, shake the dust off of your feet against those people, and I will judge them on the last day, (Matt. 10:14-15).  Jesus did not make the Truth to look easy to follow.  Instead, He said there is a high cost to discipleship, (Luke 14:25-33).

Many misuse Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”  They assume it condemns any judgment. But Jesus in context said to judge some men as dogs and pigs and keep the Truth from them, (Matt. 7:6). He wants us to judge righteous judgment, (John 7:24). "Judge not, that ye be not judged," pertains to private judgment for personal offenses, not sins against God. The sense is this: do not judge personal offenses harshly or hypocritically. Jesus explained this in the next four verses (Matt. 7:2-5). This verse, Matt. 7:1 does not at all condemn judging fools.

The Truth is available in many places. All of God's creation speaks of His eternal power and Godhead. Men are without excuse! But when they reject the Truth He offers, He darkens their minds and turns them over to perverse thinking and actions, like sodomy and other abominations, (Rom. 1:18-32). When men do not love the Truth, God sends strong delusion to cause them to believe a lie and be damned for eternity, (II Thess. 2:10-12).  Alas, many churches today have rejected the Truth of the Scriptures for fables!!  Therefore, God removes their understanding and gives them over to the emotional or sentimental smog of their own imaginations. Truth in today's culture is every man’s opinion rather than the Word of God, (II Tim. 4:3-4).  There is a significant famine of God’s Word, (Amos 8:11-12). Paul prayed to cure the ignorance of some, (Rom. 10:1-3), but he told others they could stay ignorant, (I Cor. 14:38).

Indeed, Lady Wisdom allows a window of time to show your love for Truth and wisdom. If you neglect or reject her offer, she will withdraw, neglect or deny you in your great hour of need, when you call upon her for help, (Pr. 1:20-32). Truth and wisdom are pressing matters. Lady Wisdom wants you to love her. If you do not, you must love death, (Pr. 8:17,32-36).  Do you wish to promote Truth and wisdom here on earth? Then love it with all your being, and promote it among those that are wise, (I Cor. 2:6; I Thess. 5:14; Jas 5:19-20). Then live a holy life of Truth and wisdom and wait for men to ask you for the reason of your hope that makes you different from the world, (Pr. 22:20-21; I Pet. 3:15). Show the world a godly and holy life, and wait for the Truth to enlighten their hearts.  Any conversion without God’s regeneration in your life is but a mere illusion.  Have you sought the old paths and the right way, (Jer 6:16)? Have you forsaken all fools, including those who use pulpits on Sundays? Do you worship the Jesus Christ of the Bible? The mystery of godliness in Christ Jesus is great, (I Tim. 3:16), but it is only for those who have a holy desire for it, (Rom. 1:8-15; 15:31).

XI.   “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”  (Proverbs 26:4)

Fools do not deserve answers. Save yourself the pain, trouble, and waste of time dealing with them by ignoring their disrespectful, foolish and scornful questions. Take the high road of Truth and wisdom, and do not stoop to their haughty insolence or lazy ignorance. Not everyone has a right to an answer to his question. Answers are a privilege only for those meeting conditions for Truth. Debating with fools is wrong! They do not deserve knowledge or Truth. Wisdom is too precious to waste on them. Wise men will love and accept the Truth.  Arguing is of the flesh.  For these reasons, it is wrong to debate with people who do not display godly character and conduct.  When one debates them, he is honoring their foolish ignorance.  Say what is necessary to shut their mouths, knowing that anything more is folly and sin, (Pr. 26:5). The foolish of heart deserve no honor, (Pr. 26:1), but rather a rod for their backs to help them, (Pr. 26:3).  When one debates Truth with a fool, the fool will first despise the wise words and then ridicule the precious things he hears, (Pr. 23:9). The Truth will be degraded when one allows the fool to mock and reproach it. A fool twists one's words and uses them against him because his heart is corrupt with hate and violence, (Isa. 29:20-21). Leave him alone, and let him rot.

Jesus declared, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matt. 7:6).  Jesus often rebuked the Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, lawyers, and scribes of His day for their foolishness.  He strictly avoided any foolish wrangling with them. Jesus called them dogs and pigs – vile animals and perpetual examples of beastly cruelty and selfish greed, among other despicable traits.  Do you think those are harsh words?  When His disciples told Him that He had offended the Pharisees, Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:14). How do you spot a fool? Easy! Listen to him talk, (Pr. 14:7), and measure his walk, (Pr. 20:11). A fool talks a lot, likes his own ideas, gets angry quickly, always justifies his worldly and ungodly conduct, belittles others, prefers teaching over being taught, wants to debate most anything, resents authority, disdains convention, and talks profanely, vulgar. A fool also does not live by the Word of God.  He bears no spiritual fruit, which is the true measure of real wisdom.  His flesh wants to get the last word.

There is danger.  Paul warned against the foolish questions or vain babblings of foolish men, (I Tim. 1:3-7; 4:7; 6:20; II Tim. 2:14-16,23; Titus 1:14; 3:9).  Fools often try to shame us for not debating them, for they are just another class of fools themselves. Answers and truth are not a right. They are a privilege only for those meeting the conditions of righteousness. When men do not have the right spirit and response to the Truths of God, God sends them strong delusion to believe a lie that they might be damned, (II Thess. 2:9-12).  May we all thank God for choosing to be wise and believe His Truth rather than rejecting it like fools do, (2 Thess. 2:13).  Keep in mind that arguing with a fool makes you one too!  

XII.   “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.”  (Proverbs 26:17)

Think of that dog as a pit bull, with foam coming out of its mouth, with its leash dragging behind. That’s right; mind your own business!!  Even a friendly dog will bite when one grabs and pulls its ears.  So it is with the busybody who gets involved in the strife of others.  Both parties will soon bite him!  God's wisdom teaches us to avoid the conflict of others.  Peacemakers are wonderful, (Matt. 5:9), for their greatest work involves making peace when there is fighting. Peacemakers overlook others' offenses to make peace with them, (Matt. 5:23-26).  As Christians, we are to make peace with those who offend us, (Matt. 18:15-22).  Under no circumstances, is it wise to get involved in others' conflicts, trying to make peace for them.  Why?  Because even our own conflicts (which we know well) must be resolved with caution, (Pr. 25:8).   He who is wise makes sure that his words are edifying and well-spoken in due season, (Pr. 15:23; 16:20).  Godly and wise men try to help others with their conflicts and problems (fighting and strife), (Rom. 15:1-3; Gal. 6:1-3).  As Christians, we are to be our brethren's keepers in such things, (Lev. 19:17; I Thess. 5:14). Those in authority (for example parents and elders) have the honorable right and obligation to search out problems and make peace, (Pr. 25:2).  Unfortunately, many are busybodies. They love to be busy in other men’s affairs, (I Pet. 4:15; I Tim. 5:13). This is a sin, and it is to be avoided and repented of.  The Word of God associates this sin with murder, theft, and evil deeds. So, stay busy with your own things, for when one is fulfilling his own duties as he should, he will not have time for the things of others.  Take heed!

Meddlers love to get involved in other people’s disputes and troubles.  They crave the inside information of private controversies. They find satisfaction in doing this.  It makes them feel important to be involved in the problems of their neighbors, though they are usually terrible about solving their own problems. Every man has enough problems of his own.

The brethren at Thessalonica were so prone to be busybodies that they even stopped working. Paul exhorted them saying, “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” (II Thess. 3:11-12). He likewise instructed them saying, "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.” (I Thess. 4:11).  Women have a great temptation to be meddlers, or busybodies, getting involved in strife that does not belong to them. So, Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded the young widows to marry and have children to keep them from idleness and the temptation of such folly, (I Tim. 5:12-15). A busy woman who is conscientious about her daily duties will not have time or interest in such dangerous things. Idleness is a curse on any people, as it was in Sodom of old, (Ezek 16:49).  Remember that "an idle mind is the devil’s workshop."  Stay busy, and do not meddle in the affairs of your neighbors!  

Jesus taught that each man has sufficient evil threatening his own life each day to keep him fully occupied, (Matt. 6:34). He called it hypocrisy to worry and judge another person about a mote of dust in his eye when he should be fully occupied with getting the beam out of his own eye, (Matt. 7:3-5).   So, keep away from others’ squabbles. Leave the dog’s ears alone!!

Our Lord Jesus Christ also set a perfect example in this matter.And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you.” (Luke 12:13-14)?  So, can you follow this holy example of Jesus today?  There is a great difference between suffering as a busybody and suffering as a Christian, (I Pet. 4:14-16).  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!  

XIII.   “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.”  (Proverbs 26:20)

The wood here is a house fire, already raging which needs to be put out rather than pouring more gasoline on it. When wicked men stop spreading innuendos, rumors, and negative information that may harm another, disputes, fights, and bad blood end quickly.  A fire goes out as soon as there is nothing more to burn.  Conflicts end as soon as there is no more irritation made (no more fuel added to the fire).   We have two obligations:  never to bear tales about others and to stop those who do it aggressively.  You see, talebearing (gossip, whispering, tattling, blabbing) is a forgotten sin. It is neither understood nor condemned today. Talebearing is spreading injurious or malicious reports about another person. A talebearer is one who officiously spreads reports of private matters to gratify malice or idle curiosity, (Pr. 20:19). It is commonly called gossip and slander.  The Bible synonyms are backbiting, tattling, and whispering, which are sins condemned by God, (Pr. 16:28; 25:23; Rom. 1:29-30; II Cor. 12:20; I Tim. 5:13).  Talebearing is telling negative information about someone to either hurt him or impress a hearer with the news. He doesn't care about whether the information is true. Slander is spreading false information about another person. Backbiting, talebearing, tattling, and whispering are spreading rumors about another person to harm their reputation and integrity.

Malicious talkers, who keep resurrecting and spreading news about their enemies, keep conflict alive, when it ought to die otherwise. These evil persons have no love for peace, for they love to stir up trouble and harm, (Pr. 15:18; 16:27-28; 26:21; 29:22). Godly and wise men cover all offenses and bury them, (Pr. 10:12; 17:9; I Pet. 4:8). They seek to make peace at all times, (Jas 3:17-18).  God hates talebearing, (Pr. 6:12-19; Ps. 15:3), which is to assault another's character and reputation verbally. Talebearing is a violation of God's Word, (Matt. 5:21-26). Talebearing causes great pain deep in the soul and harms the relationships of men without a way to mend them, (Pr. 16:28; 17:9; 18:8; 26:22).  So why not hate this sin?  Why not guard your lips lest anything negative about another person slips out in the heat of passion or during light chitchat? Why not love others enough to keep from saying things about them that would be derogatory or damaging?  Stop talking too much, for you will likely commit this sin!  Cut your words in half. Make a solemn resolution only to say good things that are gracious and edifying about others, (Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:29). Avoid those at all costs who love to spill others' private matters in your presence, (Prov. 25:23; 22:10).  In doing this, you will end all contention, strife, and reproach and will bring all to an end. Be wise and don't condemn yourself!  Rebuke such people and if they don't repent, walk away from them! (Ps. 101:4-5). Let all your speech be gracious, (Col. 4:6). 

XIV.   “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.”  (Proverbs 29:9)

Indisputably, fools are hopeless. No matter how much one tries to help them understand wisdom and understanding, they still cannot and will not learn. They are incorrigibly foolish, stubbornly conceited, and rebelliously wicked. Nothing will change their foolish hearts. There is only one Physician for this disease, only one Counselor for these fools.  What is a fool? A fool denies God’s authority, in words and actions, (Ps. 14:1). A fool trusts his own heart and rejects instruction, wisdom, (Pr. 28:26; 15:5). He loves himself. He hates wisdom and loves folly, though he does not admit it. He is not merely foolish, for he has been given over to folly. He thinks, speaks, and acts contrary to wisdom and conduct.  When one fails to let the Lord change and transform his heart, he will eventually die as fools, (Pr. 20:12; II Tim. 2:24-26).  It's hard to reason with fools, for they are unreasonable; they have no faith because they reject it,  (II Thess. 3:2). They do not seek the living God to save them from their foolishness, (Heb. 11:6). They are incorrigible, hopeless, (Pr. 27:22). They may know and recite the Scriptures and doctrine well, but it means nothing because of their folly. The Lord of glory will reject many accomplished Pharisees and preachers in the Day of Judgment, (Matt. 7:21-23).

Intimidation and threats will not teach a fool, neither will friendship and humor. You will be frustrated. There is no rest. Fools love being fools for they love their folly and one cannot change them. There is no ambition or desire in their hearts to change their lives of lawlessness into lives of righteousness.  Can God's Truth save a fool? What approach can win him from his love of sin to love Jesus Christ and His righteousness?  Nothing will work, for he is dead in his sins with a heart at war against God's Truth, and Wisdom, (Col. 2:13; Rom. 3:10-18).   There is only one truth, and it is that fools must be born again, (John 3:3), resurrected from spiritual death (John 5:24-25; Romans 6:1-12), and quickened into life by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5) by the blood of the Son of God.  To receive salvation and save one from folly, he must love God's wisdom and Truth and dedicate his life to God in faithful service to Him.  

 XV.   “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”  (Proverbs 29:11)

Wisdom is to hold back speech.  There is a time to hold back speech to yourself.  Likewise, there is a time to talk and say it all. Wise and righteous people know what to do before speaking and when to speak, but fools spill everything without preparation, examination and thought.  Indeed, fools talk a lot! They cannot keep their mouths shut.  They give in to their desires to let everything rush out of their mouths, (any little thought, no matter how frivolous, no matter how unstudied, no matter how inappropriate).   A wise person speaks with caution.  He does not speak hastily, without examination, or offers his opinions as truth.  He rules his mouth, so as to choose wise words and wait for the right timing.  A talker is a fool, for he talks arrogantly, hastily, and loudly.  He confirms his folly.  A fool loves the sound of his own voice, and he thinks others should love it also. He thinks he has wisdom to share, and he believes others are blessed to hear him. So he gets angry when he is eventually isolated due to his ignorant and obnoxious speech and thinking.

There is "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (Eccl. 3:7). But knowing when to speak and when to keep silent requires discretion and prudence, two branches of wisdom the fool has never considered. As long as he has air to breathe (and a full belly helps), he will vent his pea-sized brain through his lips, (Pr. 30:22; Eccl. 10:12-14).  It will be better for a fool to keep his mouth shut, for he might be thought wise, (Pr. 17:27-28). But he cannot do it, for he has never held back his words in his life: he has no will nor power to do so. He must pour out his foolish heart and ideas in the hope of satisfying his agitated conceit, but it will never happen.  Even when he runs out of things to say, he still keeps talking, (Pr. 15:2).  There is no godly virtue in being "outspoken." It is merely another word for a fool! It would be much better to keep those words in and let them dissolve in the bile of his liver and go into the draught. It would be much better to ask the Lord to set a watch before his mouth and to keep the door of his lips, (Ps. 141:3). Do not speak out!!

Be wise, for there are many things (idle words, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, backbiting, talebearing, and slander) that ought not to be spoken, (Pr. 10:18; 11:13; 25:23; Matt. 12:36; Eph. 5:3-5). In many words, there is the danger of sin, (Pr. 10:19; Eccl. 5:3). Reflect on how much damage and pain could have been avoided by reducing our words, (Pr. 12:18). Therefore, the fewer, more carefully, and more slowly our words are spoken, the better it is for our hearers and us, (Jas 1:19).  Take heed!  A fool’s wrath is quickly known, for he cannot keep his angry words in place, (Pr. 12:16). A fool pours out unexamined nonsense, and worse yet, his personal opinions.  But a righteous and God-fearing man studies his words before answering anything, (Pr. 12:23; 13:16; 15:28). A fool shows his folly and shame by responding to a matter even before hearing it fully presented, (Pr. 18:13). He cannot rule his spirit, and thus proves himself a failure and loser among men, (Pr. 16:32; 25:28).

Wise men, people restrain their speech, (Pr. 17:27-28). They study before answering, (Pr. 15:28). They are slow to speak, (Jas 1:19). They choose their words carefully and wait for the right time to say them, (Pr. 15:23; 24:26; 25:11). Discretion and Prudence are the guardians of wisdom.  They restrain words and actions until they grasp a situation clearly and wisely choose a godly response, (Pr. 12:23; 13:16; 14:8; 16:21; 19:11; 22:3).  Wise and godly people keep words in “till afterward”!  After what? After they let passion, wrath dissipate and can speak prudently, (Pr. 19:11; Jas 1:19). After they apply the Scriptures to the situation and find a godly, and loving answer, (Ps. 119:11; I Cor. 13:4-7).  That is after they have studied and examined each answer with Words of Truth, (Pr. 15:28; 22:17-21). After they have sanctified the Lord God in their hearts, (I Pet. 3:15). After they have heard a matter in its entirety, and have been asked for their insight, (Pr. 18:13; 25:6-7).  So, Christians, to be wise and avoid folly, you must be cautious, discreet in your conduct; inspecting all circumstances in every direction,  (Eph. 5:15).  Your words are to be predominantly gracious, seasoned with salt, and with the sole purpose of edifying one another, (Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6). Can you keep from uttering all your mind today? Can you wait until you have the right words and the right opportunity to say them? Be wise and let your light shine before all men!! 


CONCLUSION:

The central theme of the Book of Proverbs is the fear of the LORD. The book focuses heavily on the consequences of rejecting God's wisdom and man's choices in life.  "Good understanding giveth favor; But the way of the transgressor is hard" (Proverbs 13:15).  The wise will avoid worldliness and lawlessness at all cost.  "Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23 see also 25:26).

Everything that God does reveals His wisdom.  The book of Proverbs is full of God’s practical wisdom for our lives.  One of the most loving things anyone can do for you is to tell you when you’re wrong.  You might want to call it correction, reproof, or rebuke.  Paul uses all three terms in just four verses in 2 Timothy 3:16–4:2.  The kind of rebuke that the Scriptures commend is the kind that is intended to stop us from continuing on a destructive path.  One of the greatest points made in the Proverbs is that we embrace rebuke as a wise path of life.  Those who despise reproof and correction are fools careening toward death.  Often, the one who rejects reproof, correction leads others astray, (Proverbs 10:17), is stupid (Proverbs 12:1) a fool (Proverbs 15:5), and despises himself, (Proverbs 15:32). “Whoever hates reproof will die.” (Proverbs 15:10), and “Poverty and disgrace come to him.” (Proverbs 13:18).  But those who embrace rebuke are honored, (Proverbs 13:18) and prudent (Proverbs 15:5). “He who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” (Proverbs 15:32), loves knowledge (Proverbs 12:1), and dwells among the wise, (Proverbs 15:31).  He is on the right path of life, (Proverbs 10:17), because “the rod and reproof give wisdom.” (Proverbs 29:15) and “the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23).

He who embraces rebuke, God says,I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. (Proverbs 1:23), but to the one who despises it,  He says, “I will laugh at your calamity.” (Proverbs 1:25–26).  Those who reject correction, will "eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.” (Proverbs 1:30–31), and it will be only a matter of time until they themselves will say, “I am at the brink of utter ruin.” (Proverbs 5:12–14). When ruin, destruction comes for the fool who resists reproof, correction it will be sudden and devastating: “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.” (Proverbs 29:1).  The wise and godly recognize rebuke as a gift of gold, (Proverbs 25:12). It is kindness and a token of love. “Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me.  — it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” (Psalm 141:5).  Reproof, correction is an act of love, a willingness to accept an awkward moment, and perhaps having your counsel thrown back in your face, for the risk of doing someone good. When one rises to the level of such love, he should be profoundly thankful!

In Christ, we have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3).  Without Jesus Christ in our lives, there is no way to be wise and righteous. Those who love righteousness and wisdom will listen to advice and accept instruction, that [we] may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20).   It is such a blessing when others embrace instruction, wisdom, and correction. Even when it’s poorly delivered.

In today's society, there is a great need for wisdom.  The lack of wisdom is destroying the lives of many, both young and old, making fools of them.  We see a vast number of marriages destroyed, friendships lost, souls doomed for lack of wisdom.  Likewise, there is contentiousness, anger, greed, sexual promiscuity, fraud, despicable parents, disrespectful children, envy, deceit and many more sins like these.   Although, our society has advanced exceedingly, and the explosion of knowledge is amazing, there are still many underlying problems that have changed very little.  There is a giant crop of brilliant failures.  There are more fools than ever.  You see knowledge is not enough for mankind, because we need true wisdom, God's wisdom.  The book of Proverbs provides us with practical answers to many of today's rampant problems.  It places godliness into the working clothes of righteousness. The Word of God equips all men unto every good work, (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  It also provides us with sound counsel concerning our daily living.

When we heed God's Word, His inspired counsel, we enjoy life, (Eccl. 9:7-10).  Our Lord Jesus came to bind up the broken-hearted, (Isa. 61:1-3). What more must He do to bring joy to your heart, a bounce to your step, a glow to your face, and health to your bones?!  He is our glorious Savior and Friend.  The upright in heart are glad in the Lord and rejoice forever, (Ps. 32:11; 68:3; Hab. 3:17-19).  Why not start taking His medicine to give life and health to your soul?  True fulfillment is found in fearing God and keeping His commands. Those who do not fear God will not keep His commands, (cf. John 14:15; I John 5:3).  Those who fear Him recognize His power and authority and revere Him.

May we always remember that we as Christians represent our King Jesus and His church.  May we all speak wisely, reflecting the priorities and character of our Lord and His kingdom.  May we always consider the words we speak in person and online.  May we deny self and remain silent about matters that are likely to hurt our influence or cause an unnecessary division between us and those who desperately need the Gospel.

Luci