The Bible has much to declare when it comes to traits of fools. In the book of Proverbs, the Hebrew word for "fool" is used nearly fifty times. Outside of that book, it is only used in the Old Testament in the book of Psalms and Ecclesiastes. Let us contemplate the instruction of one Proverb in relation to being foolish with our words. "A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul." (Proverbs 18:6-7).
Admittedly, no one likes to be called a fool, yet from time to time, we all do foolish things. Do we understand the ability of our lips to tangle us in fights? The enmity that is promoted through foolish use of our words is harmful not only to the hearer but also to the one speaking. Have we considered that we might be at fault in causing a feud? Many people lament the "drama" that they find in their lives, both in person and online. Yet, few take the time to scrutinize their role in causing the strife. The propensity of our words to cause problems is not new. However, our ability to cause conflict has been amplified in recent years with the various social media platforms that keep us connected 24/7. There is a constant cycle of information that provokes comment, and we can easily find ourselves embroiled in an endless debate.
If we want to avoid foolishness, what would be the wise approach to the use of our words in this context? Rather than words that cause conflict, we should strive to promote well-being. "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:13). The Greek word indicates that which is healthy. It is the word "hugianio" where we get our English word Hygiene. Our words should be delivering health to those around us. As we grow in wisdom, our speech will become more eloquent. Godly wisdom compels conversation that is "fitly spoken" (Proverbs 25:11). This means saying the right words at the right time, and in the right way. It also means at times holding our tongue. These are difficult measures to put into place. We struggle with our carnal nature to speak kind words in the face of wrath. We fight to find patience in answering a matter at the proper time and place. We grapple internally on whether each situation merits our response or our silence.
Sometimes we are successful in facing these dilemmas, and other times we are not. This does not mean we should stop our efforts to speak in wisdom. What is important is that we examine ourselves and scrutinize the things we say. We must maintain our own accountability. It is too easy to place the blame in a conflict on the other party. The reality is that we bear responsibility for our words and their impact. Let us use care with how we express ourselves and strive to be wise with our lips, instead of foolish.
May this Sabbath be uplifting to you all!