If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins. So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it! Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.
Proverbs 9: 7-10 The Message
Sometimes, we are called upon to offer our opinion. Other times, the spirit of God may be calling us to observe, but not to intervene. How do we tell when we ought to say something, and when we should leave well enough alone?
The answer may lie in what we say, when we say it, or if we should even say anything at all. Even if we are right, there are some people who do want to hear what we think is our “wise” advice. Instead they may even become irritated with us! According to this very earthy translation (the Message), those we correct might repay the favor with a “slap to the face”, or a “kick in the shins.” This is not the response we are hoping for.
The writer of Proverbs rightly realizes that when we speak to others, we need to evaluate the receiver. A wise person is often wise because they know how to resolve a situation, and have done so before. This scripture tells us to save our breath.
Instead, we should invest in people who are receptive and truly care about life. Often a person will share with you what is going on in their life, not for you to solve it, but rather to have someone hear them. There is a statement which I think sums this up: “If I want your advice, I will ask for it”.
This is where we must use discretion, and listen to the Lord. Do you hear the Lord encouraging you to help someone? Or do you feel the Lord’s gentle hand upon your telling you to just be there? Too often, we are quick to share our wealth of knowledge with others. Our heart may be in the right place, for we know that this person is truly in a bad place. Yet the Lord wants us to use the discernment he has given to us. We can only begin to get closer to wisdom by having a steady and consistent relationship with the Lord. His voice will direct you and guide you.
There were times during His earthly ministry when Jesus spoke up, and there were other times when he was silent. May we follow His example, and the Spirit’s leading.
We might ask ourselves this question:
Is God calling me to speak now, or to save my breath?
“There is a speak, and a time to stay silent,” from Ecclesiastes 3, reminds us we need to be attentive to the time at hand. Not every situation, and not every person we encounter is receptive. Therefore, may we be attentive to the Spirit’s leading.
God of all time,
Help us always to be attentive to Your leading. Guide us in all of our interactions with people. Prompt us to speak up, when You call us to do so. Yet help us to turn and walk away, when that is what is needed. We desire to be Your servants, in each and every situation. Remind us that we are not called to save the world all by ourselves, for You have already redeemed it, for all time, through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Your son, in