By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
When David was still on the run from Saul, he asked for food from a rich rancher named Nabal to feed his men. Nabal, as a fool, rebuffs the messengers sent to him. As a miserly, harsh man, Nabal does not consider the ancient custom of showing hospitality to those requesting his help, particularly, as in this case, to those who have treated his servants well and fairly. As a fool, he doesn’t consider his own vulnerable position. David has a small army and can take what he wants. He does not consider how much he will be offending a man renowned as a warrior. Fortunately, Nabal has a wife who is discerning, and by her wise action and words, she preserves the life of her husband and all the men.
Are you foolish or wise with your lips? Here are some warning signals. Do these remarks characterize you?
“I pride myself in speaking my mind.”
“People always know where they stand with me.”
“I’m not afraid to shoot from the hip.”
“I call it like I see it.”
If you make such remarks; if you don’t see what these remarks really convey, then you may be in the fool’s camp. Because what is missing in the remarks is a wise understanding of your own limitations and sin. Our minds are clouded with sin. However clear a perspective we may think we have, it is quite likely we do not see clearly. We have limited mental abilities, and even the wisest mind is nevertheless clouded with sin.
To speak wisely requires humility. It requires the right goal – to glorify God. If you simply ask yourself this question before you speak, wisdom will come to you to know the right words: Will what I am about to say glorify God? For glorifying God is ultimate wisdom.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2022 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org