Proverbs 18:13

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.


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Wise men listen carefully and answer slowly. A hasty response is not wise or prudent – it is foolish and shameful. Comprehending accurately and answering rightly are far more important than answering quickly. You have two ears to hear, but only one mouth to speak; let this ratio dictate your emphasis. Be swift to hear, and slow to speak. Make sure you know every situation fully before making a judgment or giving an answer.

Are you a good listener? Wise men listen well, because they must gather all the facts forming an explanation or affecting a situation. They must sort through and discard the details not affecting the matter and focus only on those that are important. The man already thinking about his answer, or worse yet, already talking, has foolishly cut short his gathering of information. He is a fool. You will meet many of them. Do not be one!

Do you speak slowly? Wise men are careful, guarded, and reserved to give opinions. They know that haste makes waste, especially to think and speak. They know that prudence to circumspectly analyze all angles is very important before speaking. They know that first thoughts may not be the best thoughts. They know that wise men study to answer, but the mouths of wicked men pour out foolishness without studying (Pr 15:28).

Ahasuerus and Darius hastily approved evil legislation. The first agreed to exterminate a people before knowing his wife was among them; the second condemned his most faithful aide to lions for the mere envy of his peers. And foolish Haman, if he had asked what Ahasuerus was reading might have toned down the parade for Mordecai.

Righteous judgment does not judge by appearance, but by substance (Jn 7:24). Righteous judgment discards all emotional feelings and relationships to exalt Bible righteousness. Only fools rush to judgment without all the facts, with merely suppositional evidence. Even the Jews and Romans, as quick and severe as their systems of justice were, allowed a man to speak for himself before judgment was passed (John 7:51; Acts 25:16; 26:1).

The man (or woman) who talks immediately, or who talks almost constantly, is a fool. You can find them easily. Listen to any conversation. The one answering before a matter is fully told, or answering without due deliberation, or answering frivolously or emotionally, or dominating the conversation in quantity or volume, is a fool. They declare their folly plainly (Ec 5:3; 10:3). Make sure you are not like them at all.

Few words are better. Others will think you are wise, even if you are not (Pr 17:27-28). And you will save yourself much sin and trouble (Pr 10:19; Jas 3:2). Slow responses are better. Quick speaking with little thinking is folly (Pr 14:29; 29:20). Quick hearing with slow speaking is wisdom (Jas 1:19-20). Protect yourself from trouble and easily enhance your reputation – listen more carefully, think more thoroughly, and speak more slowly.