“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Prov. 18:13(ESV)
“Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.” Prov.18:13(MSG)
Well, there you go…God has an answer for the big mouth, fly off the handle, opinionated, "I’ve got my rights to say what I want to say" human!!! As I am writing this, I need to warn you that I am on a little bit (you think?) of a soapbox! In very recent days, I have had the privilege (misfortune?) to hear many opinions given without the speaker knowing “the rest of the story…”
Let me explain. I heard someone say,
“So and so has gained so much weight!”
Thankfully, a hearer of that comment knew “the rest of the story” and was able to say, “So and so is on a medication that bloats or causes swelling.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
“So and so was so short and unfriendly to me the other day, I don’t want to be around them again.”
Thankfully, a hearer knew “the rest of the story” and said, “So and so’s life is full of relational hurts and family issues.”
This is such a small and yet continual set of examples of the casualness of spreading words that can affect hearts! Maybe it’s just me, but I can be quick to be judgmental and critical when I know only the small part of decisions, looks, and circumstances of others. I assure you, I can be as stupid and rude, as Proverbs 18 says, as the next person. And I can be as hurt or encouraged as the next person when I receive or give Ephesians 4:29 - “Do not let ANY UNWHOLESOME talk come out of your mouths, but ONLY WHAT IS HELPFUL FOR BUILDING OTHERS UP ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS, THAT IT MAY BENEFIT THOSE WHO LISTEN.”
There, I feel better (spewing comes naturally for me when I am fired up). I cannot tell you I have mastered this truth, but I can tell you the Holy Spirit is working diligently to keep the checklist of unwholesome, building, and beneficial as the standard of response for me. Not always easy for a lover of words, but I promise – the fruit of obedience to the principle in Ephesians 4:29 is no regret, no shame or condemnation, and a lot of freedom!
Bottom line, as new creations in Christ, let’s pray for one another to build and not tear down when we may not know “the rest of the story.” If our heart is burdened for or about others or their choices, let’s go to them and express our concern in love. There is absolutely no way to justify unwholesome, hurtful, or death words to anyone.
Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…for out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
Now, this is something worth hoarding and overflowing!!!