Proverbs 29:11, A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. Proverbs are short bits of wisdom, written in a memorable way, giving godly principles for living in the fear of the Lord.
Here, we get the principle of thinking before you speak. Sometimes you must speak up quickly. Our proverb is not dealing with the exceptions that prove the rule. Most of the time as a general rule, slow down and think before you utter all your mind.
It isn’t wisdom to say everything that comes to mind in the moment. It isn’t wise, or brave, or strong and independent. It’s foolish. Some time ago, I sat in a waiting room; waiting as it turns out. I couldn’t read as I usually do since a fellow patient in waiting kept uttering all her mind on every conceivable topic. No philosophy was beyond her scope and no person was spared from her opinion. One unfortunate soul sat across from her, and she asked her when her baby was due. “I’m not pregnant, but thanks.” Ouch. Did that stop our fool? Did this humiliate and humble her? Of course not, she pressed on telling us all why she made such an assumption, making an awful situation somehow worse. The nurse opened the door, called the fool’s name and she went back, muttering and sputtering on like a boat motor, leaving a rather upset young woman contemplating her weight in the waiting room.
The wise man doesn’t feel he needs to speak quickly or be the first to have a hot take on a subject. Though he may be outraged, he can wait and think through the issue instead of venting on a public forum. The wise man can wait for the most advantageous time to speak. The wise man will think through the issue and make sure that he has covered all the ground and other possible avenues not yet considered. The sage can check his outrage and his anger for a while, making sure what he says is right, but also the right time and in the right spirit.
It is easy to get caught up in the current events of the day and feel like you have to voice some opinion on the matter and do it now. When someone makes us angry or says something we disagree with, it is natural, to want to immediately respond, or even take up arms and go to war. Learn wisdom. You don’t have to say all you know. You don’t have to let everyone else know all your mind; which, probably is really what you feel, not what you think. Give it a few minutes to simmer on the back burner and think before you speak. James said ” let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” As someone quipped, perhaps paraphrasing Solomon, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”