Tag Archives: Conversation

Don’t Hit Send

Proverbs 17:28 

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. (NLT)

Most of us have encountered fools in our lives. Some of us have been fools. One of the most annoying things in life is a fool who just won’t shut up. I have encountered a few. On one ship I served on we had an engineer cadet who was nicknamed ‘the village idiot’ because of the stupid things he said. It wasn’t that he was unintelligent, just that he never ever put his brain in gear before opening his mouth. As a cadet it was doubly stupid to make himself so visible through saying stuff that identified him as a fool. In my day cadets had to know when to speak and when not to speak.

The same thing is true for us all. We need to know when to speak, how to speak, and when to hold our tongues, however difficult that may be in a given situation. Such wisdom extends also to the written word. How easy it is to write an angry email or text message and hit the send button before we have properly considered the words we have used, and their potential impact. I once hit reply instead of forward on an email in which I had used the words ‘lazy Lenny’ to describe the Swedish individual whose email I thought I was forwarding. Imagine my shock when he replied a minute later advising me, “I am not ‘lazy Lenny lying on the beach all day drinking beer.” However, he did respond very quickly with the translation he had told me would take him at least two weeks.

So if a fool can appear wise just by keeping his mouth shut (or by not immediately hitting the send button on a mail programme or cellphone) then there is hope for all of us, especially those of us who would never consider ourselves to be foolish.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19 NIV)
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12 NIV)

Studying or Spewing?

Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.

Spewing Answers

I am pretty sure you know someone who is a “know-it-all”. These are the people who always have an answer for everything, whether what they know is accurate or even true.

One of the big dangers with the “know-it-all” type is that their answers can lead to big problems.

Take it from one of those know-it-all’s.

I used to respond to someone in any situation, and very rarely with “I don’t know.” Much of the time, I was answering people (whether or not they asked me) about other people and what they were or were not doing.

Many times, I would even answer people’s questions with information I had heard in passing, but I would pass off as hard facts the parts I had to fill in.

Do you know how many fights, strained or even ruined relationships, or feelings hatred/bigotry/fear I initiated due to my spewing mouth? (Neither do I)

Studied answers

Perhaps you know that person who rarely speaks, but when they do they sum up or finish a conversation with their amazing words of insight.

I wish I could say I am one of those, but I still have a long way to go. In any event, this is what this type of person is like:

This person listens more than the speak.
This person pays attention to the details, not just what people say.
This person thinks through what they will say, weighing all of the facts.

In other words, this type of person studies each word and action of others and themselves before speaking.

Christians

As Christians, we must study everything we say, each interaction we have with others.

Not only that, we must study God’s Word so that we are “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

Giving an answer that we think is true or that sounds right can be very dangerous. This is where heresy and blasphemies begin and spread. This is where non-Christians find reasons to avoid the Church and Jesus.

Lord Jesus, move in our hearts through Your Holy Spirit to seek and speak truth. Guide us in all truth that we might bring peace and healing rather than evil to this world.


My Pride Says I’m Right

Proverbs 13:10

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised [is] wisdom.”

I know I’m right

Have you ever listened to a parent talking with a teenager? It can be fun, to say the least.

You see, a teenager has “seen it all” and “knows about everything” now that they have lived on this earth as long as they have. A teenager “understands what the world is all about” and is “always in perfect control” of his or her life.

But you know, a parent has been through “everything” that a teenager is going through, “knows all about everything” going on, and how to solve every situation.

A parent “has to control” the family and everything that affects them; a teen thinks he can handle things himself.

Both sides know and can.

Not Listening

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, teenager, you have not been around as long as your parents, and they have been through a lot more than you may ever know.

The problem that always comes in is that, sorry, parent, teens actually do go through different circumstances and know more than you may realize.

In other words, the reason so many fights break out between parents and teens is that both know everything going on and think they can control it. This usually includes not hearing what the other is saying, because each side is so sure that the other does not understand as much as they think.

And usually they are both right.

And usually they are both wrong.

Wisdom

Just like in any relationship – from parents and children to friends to spouses to complete strangers – contention arises because we fail to listen.

The wise choice is … wait for it … TO LISTEN!

Much contention, fights, and hatred could be avoided if we would just listen to each other, hear each side. Then, find your common ground and dialogue.

If you can not do it, get another person to help, but be willing to hear that person tell you that you are wrong (Matthew 18:15-17). Pride will tell you to fight it.

If you listen to pride, go back to the beginning of this little devotional.

Lord, teach us humility, even though it may hurt to get to it. Give us a heart to listen and hear and to admit when we are wrong. Give us the wisdom to listen to others and know when it is okay to speak (James 1:19)


What’s In Your Heart?

Proverbs 11:12

He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”

Have you watched any TV or movies in the past few decades and seen those stories with neighbors that fight about who has the best lawn, the best toys, or the best Christmas decorations?

Most of the best end (or at least have middles) with these enemies coming together to work together or even in friendship.

War and Peace

The funny thing about all of these stories is that these neighbors (usually men, but sometimes women or both) fail to see just how much in common they have with each other, even to the point of hating something both parties have in common, or go beyond reason in their hatred. It is as if they have declared war, not only against their neighbor, but against common sense and reason.

These neighbors spread rumors, sabotage each others’ endeavors, and openly mock each other without realizing how foolish they look to most other people.

Many times, this attitude ends up carrying over to others, including family and friends.

Compare this to the neighbor everyone loves and wants to be around.

This neighbor often lends a helping hand to others, even those people others might not be inclined to help … including unliked neighbors.

This neighbor rarely, if ever, has anything bad to say about others, oftentimes because of an understanding of how bad hurtful words can feel.

You and I

What about us? Have you considered the words that leave your mouth? Do you think about what you say before you say it?

Do you know what is in your heart?

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: – Matthew 15:18-19 KJV

Perhaps the reason neighbors can not get along, people look and sound foolish, and we say things that we are ashamed of later is that we have those things listed above in our hearts.

You and I need to lift each other up as we seek the heart of Jesus Christ. We must help each other in our desire to have Jesus change our hearts to be like His.

You and I, to be able to hold our tongues and no longer have the need to hold our tongues, need the Wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, dwelling in our hearts.

Heavenly Father, without You we have evil hearts and defiled tongues. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, live in our hearts and change them to be like Your Son’s. Teach us to love our neighbors. Give us Wisdom to not only say what needs to be said but to want to choose You.


Lazy Arguments

The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason. -Proverbs 26:16, KJV

While I work on projects during the day, I like to listen to podcasts or YouTube videos.

Recently, I saw two videos in a row showing people outside of abortion clinics, and in both the pro-life groups were confronted by a single person each time who had to tell them why they were “wrong for being anti-abortion.”

The difference between the two pro-abortion advocated and the two groups of pro-life advocates was striking.

(Quick disclaimer: this is not calling all who are pro-abortion are sluggards or unthinking, nor all who are pro-life as loving or logical in discourse. Lazy argumentation can go both ways!)

In both instances, the individuals were so convinced that they were right that they never responded to the pro-life arguments, merely falling back on emotional appeals and ad hominem (basically, personal) attacks. There was no logic nor appeals to evidence, and their opponents were evil and uncaring.

Conversely, the two groups remained respectful, grace-filled, and logical.

The whole point here is that it is lazy to only appeal to emotions and unverified facts. It is lazy to attack the person instead reasoning through facts and logical arguments.

Whether or not you support abortion, this is how all people (Christians in particular) should interact with others. It is a biblical expectation. (Isaiah 43:26, 1 Peter 3:15)


Trying Not To Be Fools With His Words

Many readers of Proverbial Thought may enjoy the thoughts we share each day.

Maybe you do not understand some our thought process.

I for one do enjoy writing out these devotional thoughts for others to enjoy, but it weighs heavy on my heart.

For starters, read Proverbs 26. It will only take a few minutes. What really strikes me is the number of verses about the wastefulness, follies, and even dangers of fools speaking proverbs.

We are basically putting it put there that we are responsible for affecting the way people think!

In fact, when I was a new believer of Jesus Christ, I knew I should “do my part” and read at least something in the Bible. I chose James, for “not being too long and possibly boring me, nor too short and making me look lazy.”

Ouch. This was the first thing that stood out to me (in my NIV Bible at the time):

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

I understood that to teach others means I would be scrutinized myself, both by other people and by God.

That terrified little 16-year-old me! (Even at six feet tall at that time …)

Honestly, it should be intimidating to all of us.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

God has an expectation. If you teach others about the Word of God – which all believers should in some way – you are expected to know what it says and how to explain it adequately.

This is the struggle we deal with every day for Proverbial Thought, and for many of us, who are pastors and ministry leaders, as a daily concern.

Therefore, we write to help others (you, dear reader!) to be better equipped to share your faith, even if mostly about the Proverbs.

If you are a follower of the Lord, you should be able to share the reason for your faith. Use any tool available to you to grow, starting with regular Bible study, researching what others have said, and meeting with fellow believers (by going to church, attending Bible studies, meeting together just to talk, and serving togwther).

Hopefully, we have played a role in your growth and not written foolishly.


Be an Earring? Yep.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. -Proverbs 25:11‭-‬12, KJV

We must be willing to hear the truth.

If you are willing to hear that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, you can be saved. If you can hear that you have messed up and that there is hope for change, that becomes good news. (This is what verse 12 means.)

If you are struggling with something – whether a sin, a discomfort, a pain, or a problem – it can be difficult to listen.

A fitly spoken word is one that cuts through the pain and worry, it cuts through the distractions, and touches the humanity of the hearer. How many times have we been hurting, and that one person comes alongside, comforts us, and we feel safe to trust listen?

Now Apply It

There are many things wrong in our world today. They lead to pain, discomfort, and problems, and frequently they come from sin.

Now, who would you rather listen to:

  1. The person who attacks your intentions, character, and way of life, or
  2. The person who can connect with you, offer hope, and then points out your part?

Obviously, we would all listen to the second person more readily. Both point out the problem and the sin, but only one treats you with respect.

Which person are you?

Do you vilify those you disagree with or who cause problems, or do you seek to resolve things peacefully?

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18‭-‬19 KJV

We are to be peace-makers.

And remember, do not take attacks from others personally. Just like us, they need to be washed in Christ’s atoning blood and forgiveness. Show grace. They are hurting, too.

Let them see Christ. You are the gold earring they will see as they whisper in His ear. You are the gold necklace they find when resting on His shoulder.