Silence is golden

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. – Proverbs 17:27

I wrote this verse down on a note card sometime during high school. I had completely forgotten about it until last weekend, when I happened to see that note card on my desk. That verse meant a lot to me in high school because it gave affirmation to a part of my personality that I was only just beginning to recognize. And now that I’m out of college, with a little better understanding of myself and life, I can say that the proverb’s encouragement to me now has remained much the same. And I can also say that I have become better at doing what it values.

I have come to really look up to people that are careful and thoughtful with their words. There’s something about the way those people share advice or let me finish talking before offering their opinions, which are full of wisdom and discernment. It is hard to describe, but there’s a way that some people pause thoughtfully as they form their thoughts. They choose to struggle to articulate what is difficult to express rather than resort to rambling. I admire those kind of people.

It’s not just what people say but how they say it as well. The people I respect most are those that speak gently but firmly, confidently but humbly. There’s something about that phrase “cool spirit” that I like a lot. Cool spirit => understanding. The NIV says “even-tempered.” A man of understanding is even-tempered. A man of wisdom and maturity has a cool spirit. I think it is referring to someone who doesn’t get tossed by the waves of emotion.

It is hard to have much respect for people who show a lack of restraint with their words. I won’t go much more into that, except this. A good word to describe people who don’t restrain their words? Obnoxious. The next verse does say this: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” So true. Some people would do well to just be quiet once in a while.

Of course, showing restraint isn’t just a guy thing. 1 Peter 3:4: “[Wives], let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart and the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” What a beautiful verse. And how beautiful are those who possess that gentle and quiet spirit. They are hard to find.

With time, we will learn.

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