Proverbs 17: 27 One who spares words is knowledgeable; one who is cool in spirit has understanding. 28 Even fools who keep silent are considered wise; when they close their lips, they are deemed intelligent.
The writer has been making various comparisons between wise people and foolish people in this chapter. In these two verses he suggests that a wise person is one who “spares words” and even fools may appear wise when they “close their lips”.
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, I am an extravert. In other words, I tend to process things externally by talking them out. The opposite of an extravert is an introvert, who processes things internally (by thinking about it). All people have capacity for both extraversion and introversion, but most of us have a dominant side. For me, it’s extraversion.
While there is nothing wrong with extraversion per se, the writer of Proverbs is correct. Particularly when under stress or in an anxious situation, it’s often better to keep one’s mouth shut. Under stress, extraverts tend to let words fly haphazardly. We say things we don’t necessarily mean because we haven’t thought things through. We’re just reacting verbally to a stressful situation as a means of relieving our internal tension.
But, under stress, it’s easy for us extraverts to say things we regret later.
And as I write this blog post I realize that, while I understand the dangers of extraversion, I’m still not great at keeping my mouth closed under stress. I suppose if it were easy, the writer of Proverbs wouldn’t have to write about it in the first place. Lord help us extraverts!
Heavenly Father, give us extraverts grace to exercise restraint in what we say – particularly in times of stress. Help us to hold our tongue long enough to calm down and cool off before we speak. This is such a simple thing that is so difficult for many of us to do. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.