Self-Control

Reading the Word

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.(Proverbs 29:11, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We have seen several verses in the Book of Proverbs that contrast the fool and the wise when it comes to times of conflict or disagreement. We read just yesterday how a fool cannot be reasoned with. Today, we read that a foolish person is one who “gives full vent” to his spirit. Again, the context is about conflict or times of disagreement. The fool shows no restraint, but speaks his mind, whatever the consequences. The wise person, on the other hand, holds back. He is able to harness his thoughts and words and keep them to himself to avoid making a situation worse.

We live in a time and culture in the U.S. where we are encouraged to say and do whatever we want. We are also told that we should never hold our feelings in, but let them out. We have to be careful. On the one hand, we should never let another rule over us to shut us up. However, that does not mean we should not rule over our own tongues. We must be able to speak when necessary, but we must also be able to keep quiet when necessary. The wise knows there are times for each approach and seeks to discern between the two. Ask yourself, what are the likely benefits and/or consequences of the words you are about to say?


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Descriptions of the Sluggard

Reading the Word

Proverbs 26:14–15 (ESV)
14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.
15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses are pretty vivid images of what it looks like to be a sluggard. The sluggard, or lazy person, is one who lays around all day. He is one who is like a door turning back and forth on its hinges, but instead, the lazy person turns back and forth on his bed. He is so lazy that even eating is too much effort. He puts his hand down to pick up the food, but it is too much effort to lift the food to his mouth. That is lazy!

These descriptions may seem like hyperbole, but they make us think. How many people simply will not make the effort to do the work that is necessary to provide for their own needs? Instead, they look to cut corners, avoid work, or make excuses. I am not saying this applies to every person, but it surely applies to some. It probably even applies to me at times. Laziness is not a new thing unique to our advanced society. It has been around since the beginning, even when life was much harder. But it is unwise in any age as we only harm ourselves by being this way.


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Maybe It’s Better To Say Nothing

Reading the Word

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.(Proverbs 17:28, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

People are quick to speak. We love to voice our thoughts and opinions on just about everything, even if we really do not know much about what we are talking about. We need to weigh every word we say because they will be heard and evaluated by others. And when we are wrong or it is obvious we do not know what we are talking about, we will seem foolish to others. We are often best served by keeping our thoughts and opinions to ourselves. We will seem much wiser by not proving to be fools.

We live in an age where a quick Google search can turn up tons of information on just about every topic. The problem is, you can find misinformation on just about every topic as well. Before we go spreading our “research” and opinions, we would do well to pause, take some time, and listen. Doing so can spare us from jumping to wrong conclusions and decisions that only make us look foolish in hindsight.


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The Dangers of Folly

Reading the Word

Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs rather than a fool in his folly.(Proverbs 17:12, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We often laugh about foolishness, especially when the circumstances seem minor. However, there are times when ignorance and unwise actions can prove destructive. That destruction can extend not only to the fool, but to those around him. Think of a ship captain who dismisses forecasts of a strong storm or a driver who ignores traffic laws or a sick person who will not stay home and spreads her disease far and wide. It is better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly. At least you know the danger the bear presents. A fool is unpredictable and there is no way to be prepared.

The book of Proverbs says much about the fool and foolishness. None of it is good. It is never a virtue to be unwilling to listen and learn. It can be dangerous to the fool and to everyone around.


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Fools Proclaim Folly

Reading the Word

Proverbs 12:23 (ESV)
23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This proverb tells us that it is better to be slow to tell everyone what we think we know. The wise person considers and is hesitant to speak, while the fool rushes quickly to tell everyone his thoughts and opinions. In the end, the things the fool speaks often prove to be foolishness as he is proven wrong.

This proverb is so relevant in today’s social media world. So many are willing to chime in with their strongly held opinions on every topic under the sun. News stories and statistics are shared from random sources to support every view. Then, over time, the truth is revealed and so much of what was said and shared is just complete foolishness. We would be wise to pause and consider and give time for more information before we form strong opinions. And we would certainly be wise to wait before we share our opinions with the world.


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Handling Insults

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 12:16 (ESV)
16 The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.


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Lady Wisdom Calls Out

Proverbs 120 169

Reading the Word

Proverbs 1:20–23 (ESV)

20  Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
21  at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
22  “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
23  If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Wisdom is personified as a woman who calls out to all. If they will go to her, they can learn from her. She will teach them. With this invitation there are two questions: How long will the simple (unwise) love being so? And how long will scoffers continue to scoff and hate knowledge?

No one chooses to be a fool. Some just think they are already wise and have no need for a teacher. Instead of learning, they scoff at others. Instead of receiving wisdom and knowledge, they reject it and turn from it. Such a mindset sets a person up for many difficulties down the road. Wisdom is a willing teacher if only we are also willing students. Learning requires a willingness to admit being wrong and also to change, which can be hard, but worth it in the end.

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Growing in Wisdom

Proverbs 17 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Proverbs 1:5–7 (ESV)

5 Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
6 to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Proverbs tells us that there are two kinds of people who are unwise. There are those who are unwise because they have not yet had a chance to learn and are still in process. Children would be an example of this category as they learn and grow to maturity. The second kind of unwise are the foolish. This group has had opportunities to learn and grow, but they refuse to take instruction. Instead they remain in their ignorance and suffer the consequences.

The ultimate source for wisdom is from the Creator of all things. Who better to tell us what this world is all about and how to best live in it? So, the beginning of wisdom is to “fear” the Lord. This means that we know he is there, that he deserves our worship, and that we will give an account to him for our lives. The wise person puts God at the center of all things and seeks to understand all that God has said in his word. Do not fail to grow in wisdom through neglect of the word of God. Make daily Bible reading a top priority in your life. It would be foolish to do otherwise.

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Wise in Your Own Eyes

glasses woman person face

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not include any supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Proverbs 26:12–16 (ESV)

12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.

13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
There is a lion in the streets!”

14 As a door turns on its hinges,
so does a sluggard on his bed.

15 The sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
it wears him out to bring it back to his mouth.

16 The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven men who can answer sensibly.