Proverbs 12:16 The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Many a person reacts instantly and negatively to slights and then justifies it under the guise of being “honest” or “transparent.” But honesty and transparency do not require wearing our every feeling on our sleeve, nor subjecting others to our every discomfort. This is a fool’s errand. Knee jerk reactions are the reactions of a jerk – or more properly, a fool. The one who is easily provoked, is the slave of the provocateur. The only buttons someone else can push, are the ones you give them access to. And if you cannot set the provocative aspects aside to stay focused upon the real issues at hand, you will be forever barred from arriving at solutions to problems. I know. I’ve been there. I have played the fool. Heaven help me to be more like my King, Jesus. He responded to all situations, but never just reacted.
Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Do you tend to use your words as weapons – to wound others? Chances are, they were uttered rashly – like the knee-jerk responses of verse 16. But even if not – even if well considered, what a poor use of such a powerful tool – this tongue of ours. Even in reproof, our aim ought to be healing and never simple denunciation or hurting someone back. If someone needs correction, may we truly bring correction, for their good, and not merely give vent to our personal vitriol. Our job is not to punish others with our words. Ultimately, that is never more than our own desire to hurt the other. Even “when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 9). Neither should we.
Proverbs 12:20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy.
This is a right heart – one whose plan it is to bring peace – especially where it is threatened. For the lost, we seek their peace with God in Jesus. For the Redeemed, we seek their peace with one another. If that is not our goal, we are self-deceived and are devising evil instead.
Proverbs 12:21 No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.
It isn’t that the righteous are trial-less, but rather that God is not chastening, and every woe is redeemed for blessing.
Proverbs 12:23 A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.
Spilling everything we know about everything to everybody is foolish. When we shut up and listen, we remain prudent.
Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
This is as true in spiritual matters as it is in natural ones. The “farmer” who is not diligent to plow thoroughly, plant liberally, water carefully, pull weeds ruthlessly, protect from ravaging pests watchfully and harvest punctually – will not survive. The “Christian” who does not feed their soul on the Word daily, attack indwelling sin viciously, drink in worship thirstily, breathe in prayer repeatedly, seek holiness intentionally and pour grace into others as providence allows – will not survive either. I believe it was A. W. Tozer who said that most of us are not as holy as we wish were, but all of us are as holy as we are willing to be. If your spiritual progress has been stalled, or has taken a back seat – is it not time to see if you are being diligent about the things which make for true growth in the likeness of Christ? We will not rule over ourselves and indwelling sin, if we are not diligent to pursue those things which make for it. Nor should we be surprised then that spiritual matters have become more like forced labor than joyful privileges. It was in Christ’s diligence to pursue all the Father had put before Him, rather than shrinking at the struggles and labor, that purchased our salvation.