Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27
The phone started ringing and I saw that it was a dear friend who was going through a difficult season in her life. I thought about answering the phone but, frankly, I only had about four minutes to spare at the time. I knew, however, that this friend was probably in need. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t help her?
I answered the call. My friend started her story, which kept going… and going… and going! I looked at my watch. I was out of time and needed to leave. So, I voiced out a hurried “I understand” and doled out some advice to “fix” her issue.
I had answers and strategies. I had wisdom. I gave her an action plan. I hung up. I handled everything, right? Wrong.
After hanging up, I had a sinking feeling that I didn’t help her much at all. In fact, I wondered if I could have even hurt her? I said far too much.
My friend didn’t need my lofty words, just my care. She didn’t ask for advice, just my presence. She didn’t need my strategies or my perfect answer, just my listening ear. It was my pride that made me want to rise up as her rescuer. It was also my pride that made me feel like I had to speak up with wise words all the time.
It was my pride that made me want to rise up as her rescuer
This verse helps us understand that knowledgeable people say less. They weigh words carefully before speaking them. Wise communicators don’t immediately respond. They are okay with silence and they give space for others to help themselves. They take time to think before they speak.
The man that has knowledge restrains his words. He thinks much and says little; and though he may communicate his knowledge to the right people at the right time, yet he never speaks of it in a boasting and prideful way.
Sadly but truly, the world around us (Christians included) appreciates and listens to those who have much to say — even if the content of their talk is vain babbling, coarse jesting, flattery, lies, dirty humour and even gossip.
What a contrast Scripture shows us! Be restrained in your words — that is how a wise man speaks. May we consider this more seriously!
We tend to listen to those who have much to say — even if the content of their talk is vain babbling, coarse jesting and lies
A man of understanding is of an excellent (cool, calm) spirit — as opposed to a warm, fiery spirit. We see this fiery spirit in the disciples of Jesus Christ, who at one point were calling for fire from heaven on those that slighted their Master.
On the other hand, a cool spirit is one that is not soon angry, but rather calm, sedate, and not easily provoked to wrath. Such a man has understanding in things divine and spiritual; he will have a spirit of prayer, and will be tenderhearted, and humble.
It is good to remember here that a meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the Lord’s sight. The Lord has great regard to such who are of a humble and contrite spirit. It is with these He dwells, to these He gives more grace.
Think about how God might use listening more to transform your relationships. Where in your life might God be asking or teaching you to use less words — and how can you begin to respond differently to what God is asking you to obey regarding this?
May the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be pleasing to Him, our God and Saviour.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom in Your word that instructs us regarding our speech. Please grant us the grace we need to use our words with restraint. May we consider Your truth, before we unleash our words. May we remember that You are our true Saviour and Rescuer before we rush in to fix things. Help us to trust You to do the hard work of fixing, rescuing and healing. And thank You that You have promised to complete the good work You started in Your children’s lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
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