There’s a reason …

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2 ESV)

My elementary school report cards were often littered with X’s on the Excessive Talking line, so it was not infrequent that I was reminded, “There’s a reason God gave you only one mouth and two ears.” In other words, “you should listen at least twice as much as you talk.” In the south, perhaps other places as well, this phrase is used as a logical argument for why a kid (or an obnoxious adult) should demonstrate self-control and talk less, particularly in a group setting.

In Proverbs 18:2, the writer is pressing deeper than simply the matter of self-control. Here, he is suggesting that for the fool what can appear to be a self-control issue is actually a window into the heart. The reason his mouth works overtime is pride.

Beware strong silent types, the fool doesn’t have to be a Chatty Kathy. A quiet reserved person can also struggle with pride, engaging with others only when his/her thoughts or opinion can be shared.

Proverbs fleshes out this idea in other places by describing the wise person. For example, “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (13:1 ESV). Or, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (9:9 ESV).

Whether we are loud or quiet, an important question to ask ourselves is, What do my conversations reveal about my heart? Am I a fool who is only interested in sharing my own opinion or knowledge? Or, do I demonstrate wisdom by being open to instruction and/or correction? Am I willing to learn from others?

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