Proverbs 12:23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself,
but the heart of fools blurts out folly.
I am reminded of the extra-biblical proverb, “Better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” The modern ease of communication has reinforced the truth of this verse. The thing of it is, once something is on the Internet it is essentially permanent, and collections abound of the absurdly foolish things people proclaim on social media. One of my uncles once told his older daughter, “If you are as smart as they say you are, you won’t let people know you know it.” I think that’s a restatement of this verse to a T. There are times when knowledge is helpful, and not sharing it is less than kind. However, there are also times when it will not be received, and sharing it only creates problems. It takes real wisdom to distinguish the difference! A major factor in this whole issue is motivation, because all too often we are motivated by a desire to be “the one in the know,” to stroke our ego. However, even a genuine desire to be helpful can meet with rebuff and resentment. We need to realize that our own wisdom is not up to the task, and ask and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and put a check on our mouths.
This is an area that has been a problem for me all my life. I have felt inferior socially and athletically, and I have compensated by displaying my knowledge. That’s hardly wise! I have reacted to my feelings of inferiority by conversely becoming conceited about my intellect, thereby putting myself in the second half of this verse. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I have confidently stated things that turned out to be untrue, not because I was trying to deceive but because I wanted to be seen as the expert, even when I was ignorant. I still have trouble with that! I am quick to spot that failing in others, precisely because I am so prone to it myself. I’ve got to stay humble before God and before men, letting God assign me whatever place is right for me and not trying to raise myself up in the eyes of men.
Father, this is somewhat painful to consider, because I have failed at it so many times. Thank You for Your grace, and for using me in spite of myself. Help me make the use that You intend of all that You have placed in me, so that I sill accomplish Your will for Your glory, and not fall into the traps of the devil. Thank You. Praise God!