“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17: 28
One fateful afternoon, 55-year-old Marko retreated to his semi-detached workshop to make himself a tool for chimney cleaning. The chimney was too high for a simple broom to work, but if he could attach a brush to a chain and then weigh it down with something, that would do the trick. But what could he use as a weight?
He happened to have the perfect object. It was heavy, yet compact. And best of all, it was made of metal, so he could weld it to the chain. He must have somehow overlooked the fact that it was also a hand grenade and was filled with explosive material.
Marko turned on his welding apparatus and began to create an arc between the chain and the grenade. As the metal heated up, the grenade exploded. The force of the explosion killed poor Marko instantly.
Every year the Darwin Awards remember those whose lives were cut short by actions that, let’s say, lacked forethought and even common sense. For example, it shouldn’t be surprising that heating a lava lamp on the stove or using an old grenade for chimney cleaning, or even teasing a wild animal are all bad ideas. But for a split second, some unfortunate people didn’t stop to think about the consequences of their actions and the results were tragic.
Fortunately, for most of us, our foolish actions stop well before our lives are in danger. The book of Proverbs is full of teachings about a fool and his or her actions, with many of them dealing directly with the words we speak. I once heard the saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth…. use them accordingly.” If we would only follow that advice. How often I speak too soon only to give unwanted advice, hurt another’s feelings, say something I regret, or speak in anger to the ones I love. In short, my actions are foolish. Colossians 4:6 instructs, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” James 1:19 goes further, “Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”
Words are powerful and carry the power to bless, encourage, teach and build up, but when misused they can harm, abuse, shame and destroy. Like the writer of Proverbs understood, may we also listen more than we speak. And in so doing, even our foolishness may seem wise.
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1. Think of a time you experienced pain through the words of another.
2. Evaluate your own words. How are you either continuing or stopping the cycle of pain caused by words?
Luke 6:28; James 3:6 – 12; Ecclesiastes 5: 1 - 7
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