A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
You do not have to say everything right now. Slow down! There is a time to hold back speech to yourself – there is a time to talk and tell all. Wise men know what to do before speaking and when to speak, but fools spill everything without preparation or thought.
Fools talk a lot. They cannot keep their mouths shut. Any little thought, no matter how frivolous, no matter how unstudied, no matter how inappropriate, has to come rushing out. But a wise man speaks carefully. He does not speak hastily, or without study, or offer opinions as truth. He rules his mouth to choose wise words and wait for the right timing.
A talker is a fool. If he talks arrogantly, hastily, or loudly, he has confirmed his folly even more. A fool loves the sound of his own voice, and he thinks others should love it also. He thinks he has wisdom to share, and he thinks others are blessed to hear him. So he gets angry when he is eventually isolated due to his ignorant and obnoxious speech.
Solomon said there is a time for everything: “A time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccl 3:7). But knowing the right time requires discretion and prudence, two branches of wisdom the fool has never considered. As long as he has air to breathe (and a full belly helps), he will vent his pea-sized brain through his lips (Pr 30:22; Eccl 10:12-14).
If a fool could keep his mouth shut, he might be thought wise (Pr 17:27-28). But he cannot do it, for he has never held back words in his life: he has no will nor power to do so. He must pour out foolish ideas in the hope of satisfying his agitated conceit, but it will never happen; when he runs out of things to say, he keeps talking anyway (Pr 15:2).
There is nothing virtuous about being “outspoken.” It is merely another word for a fool! It would be much better to keep those words in and let them dissolve in the bile of your liver and go into the draught. It would be much better to ask the Lord to set a watch before your mouth and to keep the door of your lips (Ps 141:3). Do not speak out!
Many things – idle words, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, backbiting, talebearing, and slander – should not be spoken (Pr 10:18; 11:13; 25:23; Matt 12:36; Eph 5:3-5). And many words raise the probability of sin (Pr 10:19; Eccl 5:3). How much damage and pain could have been avoided by restraining your words (Pr 12:18)? Therefore, the fewer, and more carefully chosen, and more slowly spoken, are your words, the better (Jas 1:19)!
A fool’s wrath is quickly known, for he cannot keep his angry words in (Pr 12:16). A fool pours out unstudied nonsense, and worse yet, his personal opinions; but a righteous man studies before answering anything (Pr 12:23; 13:16; 15:28). A fool shows his folly and shame by answering a matter even before hearing it fully presented (Pr 18:13). He cannot rule his spirit, and thus proves himself a failure and loser among men (Pr 16:32; 25:28).
Wise men restrain their speech (Pr 17:27-28). They study before answering (Pr 15:28). They are slow to speak (Jas 1:19). They choose their words carefully and wait for the right time to say them (Pr 15:23; 24:26; 25:11). Discretion and prudence are the guardians of wisdom – they restrain words and actions until you grasp a situation clearly and can wisely choose a godly response (Pr 12:23; 13:16; 14:8; 16:21; 19:11; 22:3).
Wise men keep words in “till afterwards”! After what? After they let passion dissipate and can speak prudently (Pr 19:11; Jas 1:19). After they apply Scripture to the situation and find the godly, charitable response (Ps 119:11; I Cor 13:4-7). After they have studied for an answer with the certain words of truth (Pr 15:28; 22:17-21). After they have sanctified the Lord God in their hearts (I Pet 3:15). After they have heard a matter in its entirety, and someone has sincerely asked for their response (Pr 18:13; 25:6-7).
Samson uttered all his heart, and it cost him greatly; he could not resist the provocation of Delilah to open up and spill the beans (Judges 16:17). Yet Abigail, a beautiful woman of good understanding, waited for the right time to give her husband some bad news (I Sam 25:36). The Lord told Samuel to answer Saul only part of his mind (I Sam 16:1-3); and when in court, Paul declared only part of his relationship to the Pharisees (Acts 23:6).
Christians, to be wise and avoid folly, are to be circumspect in their conduct – inspecting all the circumstances in every direction (Eph 5:15). Their words are to be predominantly gracious, with only a seasoning of salt; and the purpose is always to be edifying (Eph 4:29; Col 4:6). Can you keep from uttering all your mind today? Can you wait until you have the right words and the right opportunity to say them? Help, O Lord.