The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
Which is better? A quick answer to a question? Or the right answer? Do you feel pressure to answer quickly? Kill the need for speed to make sure you are right. A wise and righteous man always wants to consider the question or issue carefully before answering.
A righteous man may take a while to answer a question, but he will give the right answer in the end, while a foolish and wicked man will blurt out whatever first comes to mind. To the untrained eye, the righteous man may appear bewildered, while the wicked man may seem to be a great source of knowledge for the speed and quantity of his response.
Wise men know this: haste makes waste, and quantity usually covers for lack of quality. The speed and length of an answer do not prove a right answer. Can you learn this rule to think critically of others’ responses and to slow down with your own? When someone needs advice, you should never speak unless and until you have certain truth for them.
Wise men hear and consider questions before forming an answer, for answering a matter before hearing it is folly and shame (Pr 18:13; 25:8). Nicodemus appealed to this wisdom of the law to protect Jesus (John 7:51; Deut 13:12-18). If you answer by first impressions, you will often judge by appearance, rather than give righteous judgment (John 7:24).
To avoid getting only one side of a story, God requires at least two witnesses to any event; one witness is worthless in controversy (Matt 18:16; I Tim 5:19; Heb 10:28). This helps with marital conflicts, business deals, and other two-party controversies. Remember this rule well, for most will want you to take sides from the testimony of only one side.
Searching out a matter is the honour of kings (Pr 25:2), which means to study all the details of a situation before judging, for hearsay is insufficient for noble men fit to judge (Deut 13:12-17). Wisdom requires circumspection, which is looking carefully in all directions (Eph 5:15). Perfect Job searched out matters before judging (Job 29:16).
Ministers only avoid shame and are approved by God through diligent study (II Tim 2:15; I Tim 4:13-15). If they teach or answer hastily, they will certainly blunder without the direct inspiration apostles had. True preaching is by reading the words of God distinctly to hearers and giving the correct sense or meaning, which takes much work (Neh 8:8; Ezra 7:6). Woe to those pastors today that tell entertaining stories with only lip service to the Bible. There are many of them pouring out fables, as prophesied (II Tim 4:3-4).
Even kings with the destinies of nations riding on their decisions can make errors. Solomon warned his son by this proverb to avoid the danger and risk of hasty legislation. If Ahasuerus had studied out the legislation put before him, he would not have condemned Esther’s people to genocide (Est 3:7-11). If Darius had studied a proposed fiat to honor himself, he would not have condemned Daniel to the lions’ den (Da 6:1-14).
There is no shame in saying to those asking you a question, “Please give me a little time to consider your question and prepare a proper answer.” Such a response is wisdom. Those asking your advice that impatiently criticize you for the caution are fools, and a man who answers hastily is a fool, so discount his answers greatly and do not be like him.
Jesus Christ, Whom God made very quick in understanding, judged righteously, not merely by seeing or hearing (Isaiah 11:1-5). When He answered questions, His enemies were confounded and afraid to ask any more (Matt 22:46). His name is Faithful and True.
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