A fool’s vexation is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor…Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly…A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion…A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back” (Proverbs 12:16; 13:16; 18:2; 29:11).
In the novel “Anne of Green Gables” the main character is a thirteen-year-old orphan named Anne whose outstanding personality trait is her talkativeness. Anne’s language isn’t just profuse; it’s tremendously captivating and gloriously abundant with many-syllabled adjectives. You get the idea. She is providentially sent to a brother and sister who are people of few words. The brother is comforted by Anne’s ability to hold a conversation with herself in his presence, stopping only periodically to ask him a rhetorical question. And he is aware that her speech reflects a reservoir of childlike wisdom. The sister takes a little longer to warm up to Anne and learns quickly that Anne’s dramatic speech can do as much harm as good, adding to Anne’s wisdom with her own. To her credit, Anne takes her comments to heart and grows in her understanding and decorum. She is teachable and eager to improve, even if she can’t quite stop talking.
Children are naturally impulsive and must learn to guard their ways; adults can be foolishly impulsive, lacking the self-discipline expected of mature Christians. We know that foolishness starts in the heart; irritation, self-centeredness, and anger begin there. It is unwise to allow these emotions full reign in our hearts because they hinder our walk with the Lord. They are all symptoms of a problem that is best examined. But we are especially foolish when we let our irritation be known, parade our ignorance, express our opinions without censure, and lose our tempers. Surely only foolishness would make us want to reveal our ignorance to others, but then folly seems to be unaware of being senseless. A levelheaded person, who may not even be particularly wise will at least refrain from discrediting their reputation by thoughtlessly giving air to annoyances and frustrations.
One would have thought that the Sadducees would be eager to hide their ignorance of Scripture in front of Jesus, but they did not (Matthew 22:23-33). They provided a good example of Proverbs 18:2, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Rather than learn from Jesus, the most excellent teacher to ever walk the earth, they merely wanted to compete with him, thinking themselves right. If we do not take God’s Word seriously, we are like them, unteachable, only caring about what we think we already know, and destined to remain spiritually immature.
How will you increase in learning and wisdom today? Will you impulsively go on your way as always or will you examine your vexations, resistance to correction, and trust in your settled opinions?