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May 28, 1996

Wise Words

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Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness— and the fool multiplies words. ECCLESIASTES 10:12-14
It is amazing how much people love to talk about themselves. Sit next to the typical person at a business lunch or around the conference table before a meeting starts, and he will almost always direct conversation to what he thinks, what he likes, what he did, or what he accomplished. Seldom does anyone show any interest in asking about you. In fact, sometimes the conversations are so one-sided they are almost comical. It doesn’t matter how long the two of you talk—you get the feeling that if you extended the conversation another four days, the topic would never change.
One of the things that distinguish a wise person from a foolish person is the extent to which he talks about himself and whether his conversations have substance. Solomon says that “the fool multiplies words” (Ecclesiastes 10:14). In other words, foolish individuals talk a lot but don’t necessarily say very much in the process. They offer long explanations without answering any questions. They sometimes talk just for the sake of speaking. While their words might be eloquent, when the whole conversation is over and you have time to reflect, you’re really not sure that they said anything of substance.
In contrast, words that come from a wise man are gracious words. They are courteous and thoughtful. They are logical and shed light on a situation. A wise man may not speak as often or use as many words as someone else, but the words he does say have real impact. People can’t deny their power and the advice that they represent. It takes very few wise words to completely silence the many words of a fool.

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