In the Bible, the book of Proverbs is known as the book of wisdom. This book was written by King Solomon, who was known as the wisest man who ever lived. Throughout the book, there are a myriad of scriptures and words that encourage the reader to not only use wisdom, but how to embrace it. Part of the process as it relates to wisdom is knowing what to say, and when to say it. It is also knowing what not to say, and when not to say it. There are many who often struggle with their words, because the words that we say, can be damaging to ourselves and to others. It is coming to the realization that we all need the wisdom that God provides in order to avoid blunders that could be harmful to ourselves and to others. There are at least two scriptures we can extract from the book of Proverbs that can help us when it comes to using discretion with our words, and when to speak.
The first scripture can be found in Proverbs 17:28:
“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”
This scripture means, that even an individual who is considered to be a fool or foolish, is wise if they remain silent. Essentially, those that are wise are those that understand the meaning and benefit of silence. The word silence here, is used to denote the lack of words or useless chatter. Have you ever known an individual who constantly spoke, without understanding the impact of their words? It is quite possible to speak without restraint which can result in misinformation – or it may cause the privacy of a matter to be revealed when perhaps it is best not to divulge. To be silent or to maintain the absence of words can prove to be wise because often times, it is our silence that is a better alternative than speaking with an abundance of meaningless words. The second part of the scripture refers to discernment as it relates to the restraint that comes with maintaining silence. To discern is to understand or to have the knowledge of. If we “hold our tongue” as this scripture says, then we have understood that it is wise to be silent and the reasons as to why. Proverbs 15:2 says, “The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” The principle is essentially the same here, and that is that a person who is wise, speaks with knowledge as opposed to a person who is unwise, who speaks foolishly.
The second scripture can be found in Proverbs 15:23:
“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply– and how good is a timely word!”
There is much joy and benefit to a word or words that are spoken at the right time. Just as the above scripture makes reference to embracing wisdom as it relates to silence, there are also benefits to speaking at the right time. The scripture found in Proverbs 15:23, basically means that there is much joy that comes when we give a reply that is within the appropriate timing. There is nothing worse than to divulge information before its time. Doing so can be damaging to others, which can lead to mistrust, loss of privacy, and a destruction of the information that was meant to be held in confidence. Another scripture which supports the benefits of speaking in the correct timing can be found in Proverbs 25:11. It says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
A word that is “fitly” spoken is one that is revealed in its proper timing and within the appropriate context. This scripture uses the imagery of gold and silver which are words to describe the pleasantness that comes when words are spoken at the right time. We must reveal our words at the proper time, so that we add value to every scenario rather than causing harm. It is the foolish individual that does not use wisdom when speaking, because foolish words and ill timed conversations can lead to folly.
All of us have witnessed instances in which circumstances have deteriorated as words were foolishly spoken. It is also certain that we ourselves have participated in unwise gestures or speaking openly at the wrong time. The key however, is coming to the knowledge that our words have power. What we say is just as important as when we say it. There is both value and a detriment that can come from either speaking out of turn, or speaking with timeliness. It is a choice and a concerted effort that we must all make, in order to avoid using our words unwisely. The goal for all of us should be to contribute in wisdom – and having discernment to avoid the calamities that can come from speaking without warrant. To be wise, is to speak not only with a purpose, but to refrain from speaking when that time is appropriate. It is the ultimate test that we all encounter, but if you maintain a wise and discerning lifestyle, then you can avoid the errors that come with every day communication.