The Babbling Fool
The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin. (Proverbs 10:8)
We are a sick culture. The epidemic has spread and found its way into nearly every home. It is not obvious to the infected, but their symptoms are blatant.
What ails us? A lack of verbal restraint.
This isn't a rant against social media, though social media is a breeding ground for lack of restraint. That's blaming the instrument and we need to look at the musician. The reason social media has become a free-for-all is because we have made it so. We lack the restraint - the maturity - to engage virtually with others in a winsome way.
It's not just social media, though. The lack of restraint shows itself in many arenas, from email to text messages to conversations. It is very common.
Abraham Lincoln once said:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
I've heeded this advice many times when I was the fool in the room. Other times, I've vomited careless words all over the place (alcohol tends to induce verbal vomit). Lincoln understood the importance of dignified restraint.
Our lack of restraint comes from the depths of our souls. We lack the maturity to sit still and shut up. We lack the trust to let God speak. We lack the wisdom to search Scripture for an answer, so we spout off a mangled version of something a preacher once said.
Note the contrast in Proverbs 10:8:
The wise of heart will receive...
A babbling fool...
The wise are in the humble posture of receiving, of listening. The fool babbles, talking aimlessly and forcefully without discretion. The wise want to receive wisdom; the fool wants to show he already has it. He does not.
The solution to our lack of restraint lies in a posture change from me first to God first. This sounds Sunday school easy, but it isn't. Switching to a mentality of putting God first means we acknowledge that he is out ahead of us, alongside us, and in us. We are not left to our own devices, but rather we're indwelled by the Creator. If we will prolong our response long enough to listen and think and ask, he will faithfully provide wise counsel.
Our words are like bullets; they cannot be taken back. Of course, there is - thank God - grace for foolish babbling, but our errant words still bed down in the hearts of the hearers. When I was in junior high, a group of kids called me "oddball". Though I forgive them, their words have etched into my mind. Your words, for good or evil, etch into the minds of those around you.
May we receive commandments. May we sit underneath the wisdom of God in his Word, through godly counsel, and through reflection. After receiving, may we then give it back to others wrapped in love.