The tongue is a tattletale:

Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness.

–Ecclesiastes 10:12-13

The fool is a constant theme throughout the book of Proverbs. And in Ecclesiastes 10, Solomon added to what he wrote in Proverbs and gave us several more characteristics of the fool. If we want to live successful lives, we need to avoid foolish behavior.

So what does a fool do? A fool cannot control his temper. Look at verse 4: “If the ruler’s temper rises against you, do not abandon your position, because composure allays great offenses.” Have you ever had a boss chew you out? Solomon was saying if your leader gives you a piece of their mind they cannot afford to lose, do not respond with anger; instead, respond with composure. In Proverbs 15:1 Solomon said, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Being quick-tempered is foolishness.

A fool cannot control his temper, but he also cannot control his speech. Ecclesiastes 10:12-13 says, “Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him; the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness.” A fool runs at the mouth, and his tongue will end up devouring him.

One of the greatest evidences of whether or not you are a Christian is your ability to control your speech. James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” If you find yourself continually engaging in slander and gossip, you need to examine your heart.

John McArthur told a story about going to the dentist for a routine checkup. The dentist discovered a tumor on John’s tongue, and he told John, “You need to go to a surgeon and have it removed.” John replied, “Now look, you start messing with my tongue and you’re really getting to me. I live by my tongue.” The tumor turned out to be benign, but John continued to think about what he said to that dentist. He reflected, “That’s very true in quite another way than I intended it. The tongue really is you. . . . The tongue is a tattletale, and it tells on the heart.”

Jesus said the best indicator of what is in your heart is your speech (Luke 6:45). And a fool cannot control his speech.

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How To Spot A Fool:

Solomon emphasized the value of wisdom by contrasting wisdom with foolishness. He said in Ecclesiastes 10:1, “Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor.” Just as a tiny dead fly can spoil an entire gallon of Chanel No. 5, so a little bit of foolishness can destroy an otherwise successful life. Now, let me be clear: no matter what mistakes you have made, they are not beyond forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. But the blood of Christ will not remove the temporary consequences of your mistakes. God in His wisdom allows us to experience the consequences of our mistakes, even after we experience the full extent of His forgiveness.

So how can we avoid allowing just a little bit of foolishness to destroy our lives? Fortunately, Solomon said foolishness is easily identified. Look at verse 3: “Even when the fool walks along the road, his sense is lacking and he demonstrates to everyone that he is a fool.” I want you to notice four ways to spot a fool according to the Bible.

First, a fool neglects God. Solomon’s father, David, said it this way in Psalm 14:1: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds.” The fool thinks, “There is no God; therefore, I can do whatever I please.” Many people today, even many Christians, live by that philosophy. We formulate our plans and conduct our lives as if there were no God. We can go hours, days, or even weeks without ever thinking, “What does God want me to do in this situation?” But to live your life as if there were no God is foolish.

Second, a fool loves deceit. Proverbs 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the sensible is to understand his way, but the foolishness of fools is deceit.” A fool’s life is characterized by untruth.

Third, a fool laughs at the idea of sin and judgment. Proverbs 14:9 says, “Fools mock at sin.” You will hear them joking about things that should make them blush. They are illustrations of Philippians 3:19, which describes people “whose glory is in their shame.” Instead of being ashamed of sinful things, fools are proud of them.

Fourth, a fool enjoys evil. Proverbs 15:21 says, “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight.” The fool treats sin as a sport. The fool is not somebody who lacks knowledge; he is somebody who lacks moral direction. That is the mark of a fool.

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How would you define wisdom?

When looking at any recent news story, it’s hard not to agree that as a society, we seem to be lacking an answer to the question of what it means to be wise.  Or, at least a consensus on what it means.

How would you define wisdom?

If you say someone is wise, what do you mean by it? What does it look like?  What do they possess, how do they speak, or what do they do that would give you a reason to call them wise?

Wisdom is highly valued in the Bible, and it is repeatedly emphasized that true wisdom comes from God. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, James, Psalms, and 1 Corinthians all contain verses about wisdom, highlighting its importance in one's Christian walk. The fear of the Lord is presented as the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, with humility coming before honor. Jesus promised to give wisdom and the ability to speak in the face of adversaries. The Bible teaches that true wisdom is found in following God's will.