Think Before You Speak
1. This proverb deals with the subject of SPEECH.
a. This is a subject that is repeated often in proverbs… from all kinds of angles.
b. It is repeated because it is such a practical aspect of life that NEEDS repetition!
c. The tongue no man can tame… but the Holy Spirit can!
d. A Spirit filled believer will demonstrate temperance… self control—even from his mouth.
e. To demonstrate how practical this is to every believer, let’s see a raise of hands of those who verbally communicated with another human being today!
f. We talk every day! We also think every day. Solomon reminds us here of the proper order in all that. Think first!
2. Solomon contrasts two kinds of men and their two kinds of speech.
a. A righteous man… THINKS before he speaks.
b. A wicked man… does NOT think before he speaks. He just pours out whatever is floating around in his head and heart.
1. The righteous man STUDIES to answer.
2. Study Defined:
a. Strong’s: meditate; devise; muse; imagine (moan, growl, utter).
b. Dict. of Bibl. Lang.: decide; weigh, i.e., make a judgment about something after a thought process; meditate; ponder; give serious thought and consideration to selected information.
c. Used in Josh. 1:8 – meditates in God’s Law day and night
d. Used in Ps. 1:2 – he meditates in the Word day and night
e. Ps. 2:1 – why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?
f. Ps. 63:6 – meditating about God in the night watches… dwelling… mulling things over in one’s mind…
3. Answer Defined:
a. Strong’s: to answer; respond; testify; speak; shout out.
4. Various Translations of the Phrase:
a. Ponders how to answer.
b. Good people think before they answer.
c. The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.
d. The godly think before speaking.
e. The heart of the righteous meditateth to answer.
5. A righteous man THINKS before he speaks.
a. This is always good advice.
b. This kind of speech is characteristic of a righteous man or woman.
c. Because a righteous man is concerned about righteousness in his speech, he takes TIME to think before he blurts things out.
d. He is concerned about giving the RIGHT answer… which includes not only the right information, but the right spirit, attitude, delivery, setting, tone, and timing.
e. That often requires time to THINK about HOW to answer.
f. Obviously, this is not intended for daily chitchat such as, How are you? or What time is it?
g. But if that chit chat progresses to more important issues, that which is delicate, touchy, potentially hurtful, controversial, harmful to others, etc. Those issues require THOUGHT.
h. It never hurts to think… especially when our mouth is moving and our tongue is wagging.
i. Consider the definition: musing; meditating; imagining…
• Before we speak to a person about a delicate issue THINK… put your imagination into gear…
• How will these words be perceived by this brother?
• Could this information be used against me? Could it be used to slander someone else?
• Imagine how it might sound if repeated in another setting… for it very well may!
• Would you want your name attached to this information as its source if it gets disseminated?
• Would it be more helpful and edifying to give forth this information or to withhold it?
• Would the person who told me this information WANT me to tell others? Was it given in confidence?
• HOW should it be worded?
• How can it be seasoned with grace?
• Is this the right time and place to say this or would another setting be better?
• Does it really need to be repeated?
• Is this going to stir up controversy and divide friends and brethren? Will it be unifying among the saints? Edifying to this brother? Glorifying to God?
• Is it TRUE? Do I have my facts straight? Am I sure? Is my source reliable? Am I repeating hearsay?
• There are a LOT of things to think about before we speak.
6. He is SLOW to speak. (Jas. 1:19)
a. Slow speech here does not refer to a Southern drawl. It is not a matter of how fast we talk. (Bostonians vs. Louisville)
b. It speaks of being slow BEFORE we speak… not just blurting things out without thinking.
c. Be slow in making a decision concerning whether this should be said or not!
d. Be slow to give yourself time to think… time to think about the ramifications of what you were about to say…
e. Be slow to think about whether this is worth repeating…
f. Be slow to consider whether this is true, lovely, of good report, full of virtue… etc.
g. All that takes a bit of time…
h. The person who is constantly blabbing and constantly throwing their two cents into the conversation just to hear their voice often says things he or she later regrets.
i. But perhaps the righteous man is SLOW to speak because he is God-conscious… and aware that one day he must give an account for every idle word he speaks. That will slow us down a bit!
7. The mature believer is one who controls his tongue. (Jas. 3:2)
a. The mature believer BRIDLES his tongue. (Jas. 1:26)
b. A bridle indicates that it NEEDS to be controlled… an awareness of the danger of NOT controlling it…
c. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. This is serious language… we would do well to take heed!
d. The Spirit filled believer is characterized by temperance. (Gal. 5:22-23)
8. What comes out of our mouth is really a HEART issue.
a. Ps. 15:2 – the righteous man speaks truth in his HEART.
b. Therefore, the HEART of the righteous man meditates in his heart before it flows out of his mouth.
c. Speech begins on the inside… in the heart… in the mind.
d. The righteous man mulls things over in his mind and heart before he speaks.
e. Neh. 2:4; 5:6-7 – Nehemiah prayed to God in the midst of a conversation. He “consulted with himself” before he spoke to the nobles… because it was a touchy subject!
f. Prov. 16:23 – the heart of the wise TEACHES his mouth what to say and what not to say.
• A wise heart makes a wise mouth!
• There is a definite connection!
• A person has a wise mouth because the heart is wise
• A person has a foolish mouth because their heart is foolish.
1. Note the contrasts again:
a. A righteous man vs. a wicked man
b. The heart (inner man; mind; soul) vs. the mouth
c. Thinking vs. pouring out…
2. Poureth out Defined
a. Strong’s: to flow; pour out; pour; gush forth; spring; bubble up; ferment; emit; belch forth.
b. Used of a flowing brook.
c. There is nothing to hinder, restrict, or control what comes out of their mouth.
3. Their mouths pour out evil things…
a. Evil things dwell in the hearts of wicked men.
b. And those evil things will come out of the mouth eventually.
c. And they don’t just dribble out… they flow out… like a brook or river… flowing water… an unending supply of evil things…
d. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin (Prov. 10:19)
e. Often this starts as a toddler. Kids can be naughty, disrespectful, disobedient, and defiant… and CUTE at the same time.
• If that behavior is encouraged by laughing, and saying, “isn’t that cute!”… and not rebuking… it will develop into character.
• And while it might be cute when they are young… it is anything BUT cute when they are older!
• Kids can learn this simple lesson: be careful little tongue what you say!
4. Prov. 15:2 – the mouth of fools pours out foolishness!
a. What else would you expect from a fool but folly?
b. And note that the fool has PLENTY of it! It POURS out of his mouth… a constant stream.
c. Prov. 15:14 – He has plenty of folly because he FEEDS on folly… like cattle grazing in a field…
d. They fill their gut with folly and it continually flows out of their mouths.
5. Prov. 29:11 – A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
a. The fool blurts out whatever is on his mind—without any thought for the impact it might have on others… the hurt, the offense, its truthfulness, kindness, the feelings of others, etc…
b. The wise man keeps it all in… until the right time. A word spoken in due season, how good it is!
c. Vs. 20 – a man hasty in his words… there is more hope for a fool than him!
d. Conclusion: be SLOW to speak; take time to THINK; that usually will reduce the volume of our words… volume in loudness… and amount of words spoken.
e. CAUTION is the word when it comes to the mouth! STUDY to answer. Do your homework before you open your mouth!