Daily Proverbial, 27 January 2012

Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 29, verse 20.

Think before you speak. Politicians need to remember this. Healthcare consultants need to remember this. Parent of teenagers need to remember this. Teenagers texting or online need to remember this. Teachers need to remember this.

Ok, everybody got it? Thanks for reading!

Really? Have you ever known me to not be verbose?

This is about judgment. It’s about thinking before you speak. I’m a big one for making too many quick retorts or responding too quickly. I don’t mind saying that I have a quick wit, and that I usually have a good comeback for almost anything someone can say to me. This can be a gift. Coming up with the words isn’t the problem: it’s lack of judgment in using them. Shrek could have been talking to me: “Donkey, you HAVE the right to remain silent. What you lack is the capacity.”

Especially online. Just this morning, I saw a bit on the local news talking about Twitter and Facebook. It was about how people say things online that they might not usually say in person. How true. I find it easier to make comments online, to post opinions, links to things I think are important, or glib remarks if I do it online. It’s really easy to do those things before putting much thought into it about what the other person might think. Yes, Dave/Donkey can sometimes run on at the mouth in person, but it’s much easier – and a greater temptation for foolishness and ungodliness – online, where you can live within whatever personality you manufacture. True, it’s not good to come off as a prude; some ‘goody two shoes prude who has Jesus and faith but doesn’t live in the real world.’ The key is in being yourself, in presenting yourself as you are: an honest, interesting, vivacious person whose faith is a gift, not a burden, and who doesn’t let the ways of the world drag them down any longer; someone who has something to say but shouldn’t let that hurt other peoples’ feelings. Online is something to watch out for.

I think it was about 2 years ago that my friend, Travis, brought up a good idea. One week, he decided to think before he spoke. Real ‘duh’ moment there, eh? It was for me. His idea was that, when someone asked him “how was your week,” he would take a few moments, think it over, and then respond. His responses were better reasoned this way, and they came across as more genuine because, in fact, they were. He said it was hard to get used to doing, but that it helped him be more genuine and respond in a godly manner.

Brilliant advice, I think, especially if you’re like me and prone to engaging the mouth before engaging the brain. As with other subjects, this is nothing new; we’ve talked about it here before. The angle for it now, however, is observing how it’s better for fools than for even wise men who respond in haste. I remember working a decade ago with a woman who would respond within seconds to anything you said. It was shallow and annoying. And there was the NCO with whom I worked in Maryland and then later in Italy. He was insecure and always had a quick response. There was the know-it-all family member who couldn’t let you get in the last word. There was the minister who always had a condescending answer, making me feel I was never good enough. And there was the woman I once knew, who could have been a kindred spirit to that minister, never letting me feel as if I was good enough or had been around enough, done enough, to rise to her standards.

I remember all these people and then I step back to see that, sometimes, I’m like them. If I don’t watch myself, I can act like that. Gotta work on that. Gotta continually be a work in progress with this. Gotta remember that the way to address this is to keep coming back to the Cross and remembering that all this is paid for, but to do better I need forgiveness. Then it’s just a matter of doing it. After all, the cure for the common sin is Christ.

When you put it that way, there isn’t much left to say!

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