Proverbs 18:2 (NLT)
Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.
Nobody likes to be called a fool. In the Bible, fools are contrasted with the wise, so that being called foolish implies more than personal insult. It is a spiritual indictment that you are on the wrong side of the eternal battle between good and evil, between God and Satan, between wise, godly ways and foolish, worldly ways.
Many proverbs and psalms divide people into opposing classes of the foolish and the wise. However, it is easy to see such division within people as well as between people. Paul often speaks of the battle we face individually every day, whether to set our minds on the ways of God or to satisfy the cravings of our worldly selves. This conflict between wise and foolish living is no more apparent than in our dealings with other people.
The proverb quoted above nails the problem that shows up in our relationships and causes problems. Are we interested in understanding the other person, or are we only interested in being understood ourselves? Do we seek to know others and get a sense of how and why they think and act as they do? Or do we assume they are wrong if they disagree with us, and as a consequence we only talk louder about what we think is right?
What’s missing from such an exchange is godly wisdom. We are spiritually wise when we bring our faith into the conversation and measure our attitude against God’s law of love. It is not foolish to disagree with someone but only to fall back on our old habit of wanting to be right and not caring to respect and understand the other person. We are spiritually wise when we step out of our fleshly desire to put ourselves first and regard another person’s needs as more important than our own.
FATHER, I confess that I am so convinced of my own opinions that I often regard people who disagree with me as being less intelligent, ill-informed, or morally deficient. Forgive my foolish arrogance! When I am tempted to treat others with contempt and lecture them about what I think is right, I beg you to still my tongue and open my heart as well as my ears to listen to them and love them as they are.
Philippians 2:3; 1 Timothy 6:20-21
In what area of your life do you need to be most careful about talking foolishly?