For Thursday, February 28, 2008
Proverbs 29:11

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.

This is not a distinction between being demonstrative and reserved, as though the one who expresses emotions is foolish and the one who expresses little is wise. Rather it is a distinction between one who does not exercise discernment and the one who does.

The characteristic trait of the fool is that he does not think; he merely reacts to his circumstances like a knee-jerk response to the tap of a hammer. He is like the infant who laughs when happy and cries when discomforted with no thought given to anyone else. Unlike the infant, the fool, when questioned, will reflect that his reactions are quite appropriate. How so? Because he is expressing what he truly feels.

The wise man quietly holds back his inner feeling as he assesses the situation. He knows there is a time for everything, including giving full vent to his spirit, but the key is in understanding the time. Jesus, at times, gave full vent to his spirit, including anger (overturning tables at the temple), grief (before Lazarus' tomb), and even fear (in Gethsemane). But as a wise man, he discerned the right time.

Are you a knee-jerk reactor, who gives full vent to your spirit at anytime or are you a discerner who holds back and give full vent according to the appropriate time?