“Discretion shall preserve* thee, understanding shall keep thee…” – Proverbs 2:11
To be discrete or to have discretion is to know when to speak. Knowing when to speak is possibly one of the hardest parts of the Christian life. Some of us are very talkative (myself included). When I was young, a dear friend shared this verse during a time of adversity in my own personal life and it has been an invaluable proverb to continually keep in mind as I interact with folks. Sometimes I forget this wisdom, but I do try to live by it.
Solomon reminds us often in the Proverbs of the dangers of being the proverbial “loose cannon.”
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” – Proverbs 18:13
How many times have you witnessed a person hear only part of a story before flying off the handle? This Proverb applies to such situations and also is a caution about extreme paranoia (Often times our carnal nature drives our imagination to fear the worst, many times unwarranted). It simply isn’t wise to “go off half cocked” at the presentation of information. Know the story, be informed, then calmly react (I know, easier said than done).
James instructs us along these lines when he writes in James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…”
Also, Paul admonishes us to study (give attention to) be quiet.
“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business…” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
Again, the admonition is to concern ourselves with the tasks at hand in our own walk and not to be “busybodies” meddling in the affairs of others. Oh, how this principle could benefit us today! Especially, considering that we live in a day of Tweets and Status updates, debates and political alarmism. There is a technological industry built around obsessing over the lives of others! To be clear, there is nothing wrong with fellowship with brethren and family on social networking sites. That’s fine and enjoyable. Yet, at the same time it behooves us not to seek to be the loud, center of attention all the time.
A final word from Solomon,
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” – Proverbs 17:28
In short, silence is the appearance of wisdom. Even if a person is an utter fool, keeping quiet leaves the impression of wisdom in the eyes of the beholder.
1 the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information