Wise Fool Or Foolish Wise Man

by Bro. Craig Amenell

Proverbs 17:28 - “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

I used to work with a man that would best be described as a hothead. Anytime something did not go how he thought it should, or someone said something he did not agree with, he would become unhinged.

One night years ago, he and I were sitting at the front nurse's station charting our assessments. All of a sudden, the husband of one of his patients walked up to the front desk, stood between the two of us, and just started letting him have it. He used very colorful language to express how dissatisfied he was with the care, or lack thereof, that his wife was receiving. After failing to get a response from my coworker, the man walked off our unit in further frustration.

I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that my peer sat there and allowed that man to speak to him like he had without getting even a little riled up. After all, this was the gentleman who had yelled at me and told me I was an idiot because I didn’t believe in evolution. He became further enraged when I said that God created everything we see in six literal days and rested on the seventh.

That was the fool that I found myself congratulating for holding his peace. I was impressed by his wisdom in exercising discretion in this encounter. I looked at him and said, “I am proud of you.” He then lifted his glasses off the counter and returned them to his face. His hand went to his ear and he increased the volume on his hearing aids. Then he said to me, “What are you trying to tell me?” I was flabbergasted. “Did you see the man who was just at the counter,” I asked him. He said, “Not clearly, I didn’t have my glasses on, but yes, I saw the man who appeared pretty upset with you. I couldn’t hear what he was saying either because I had my hearing aides turned off so I could concentrate on charting.”

I was stunned. Knowing that it was nearing the end of our shift and his last one for the week, I simply said, “Yeah, can you believe that guy? What a hot head!” Thankfully the man never did return to our unit, and my friend had no idea what transpired that night. Truly this man was not wise but rather just unaware.

There have been times when I made myself look like a fool and wished I could have taken off my glasses or turned down hearing aids, neither of which I wear, to avoid it. Have you ever been guilty of uttering all your mind instead of keeping it in till afterward? Every time I do, I tell myself that was the last time.

I don’t know about you, but I most often could benefit from thinking before I speak. Before I open my lips, I should ask myself the following: Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If what I have to say accomplishes none of these, it would best be left unsaid.

In taking heed of this practice, I would spend less time apologizing for reckless and tacky conduct. Remembering that, “a brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city:” (Prov. 18:19). I am most grateful for the Christlike forgiveness that has been extended to me by my brethren when my candor is crass and argumentative.

Proverbs speaks frequently on the contrast between foolishness and wisdom. May we find ourselves to be neither the wise fool nor the foolish wise man but rather a prudent man who fears the Lord, for that is the beginning of wisdom. It would be better to say no words than to try and have the last.






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