“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
This proverb declares the value of verbal restraint and reticence over impulsive display of emotion. Wise people do not react or speak (or Tweet) emotionally.
Prudence is the discipline to manage your emotions — and your words — rather than react. It’s is verbal and emotional restraint. If someone’s goal is to hurt you and you react emotionally to their hurtful words/actions, then your emotional reaction will be seen (and celebrated) by them as a victory. Ignore them. Don’t give them what they want.
“Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”
Wise people tell the truth; they speak words that are honest and that reflect reality. Therefore, they can be trusted. But false witnesses are fraudulent and misleading; they purposely seek to distort and deceive. They cannot be trusted.
Our society is awash in “false witnesses who utter deceit.” Sadly, this kind of foolishness has become both institutionalized and individualized through the many media platforms that are now readily available. Individually, people can (and do) say utterly foolish and venomous things on Twitter and Facebook. Institutionally, some of the national media have become platforms for partisan politics.
If you step back and pay careful attention, you will notice that people are quick to see the “false witness and utter deceit” in the messages of other people, but don’t seem to notice it in themselves. There is a disturbing — and dangerous — lack of self-awareness in our society today.
And there are times when people are aware of their own bias, but they lack the courage to acknowledge it and change. This, too, is foolish.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Foolish people are reckless and rash with their words; the way they talk is harmful and hurtful. They tear down. Wise people are disciplined and careful with their words; the way they talk is helpful and healing. They build up.
From the President to the Congress to the press to the professors in universities to the students in classrooms to the activists in the streets to the citizens doing work every day … DON’T USE RASH WORDS!
We desperately need people who use their words to build up and heal. And again, start with yourself and your “group.” First take the log out of your own eye. Don’t respond to rash words with more rash words.
Sometimes the problem isn’t the problem; sometimes the way you are responding to the problem is the problem.
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
The point here is that a lie may last for awhile, but inevitably it will be found out. Truth, on the other hand, may not be immediately evident, but it will eventually prevail and it will endure. Time will side with the truth. Seek the truth and speak the truth.
There is much to learn in this brief passage about what we say, how we say it, and why. Trust God and do the work.