Shut Yo’ Mouth!
12 It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.
Our manner of speech toward those whom we live among sheds a bright light on whether we have true wisdom or not.
Neighbors add “spice” to our lives. Good ones, bad ones, they all do. They bring food when we’re sick, play their music too loud, and think their funky yard art actually looks great. They can stretch our patience like no one else (other than family.) However, unlike extended family, they never leave. We see them when we come home from a hard day at work and when we’re trying to chill on Saturdays. They are also easy targets for our anger and frustration.
Years ago, one Saturday, we were helping a female family member move her mobile home to a new location in the country. She had been through a LOT of trials and heartache in the preceding years and needed a place of refuge. We were very excited for her. However, her next-door neighbor wasn’t so happy about it! While setting up the mobile home, we could hear loud cursing coming from the woods across his fence, with the adjacent property owner calling her every name in the book. While the men in our party wanted to jump the fence and confront him, our better judgement prevailed, knowing that he was most likely drunk. Eventually the cursing subsided, we completed the setup, and it was over. However, we were concerned for her moving forward. Although he didn’t know her, he obviously despised his neighbor before she even spent one night in her new home!
While the initial plan was to meet with him later that week and threaten him to prevent this from reoccurring, the Holy Spirit had other plans. On the way to a meeting to confront him, God’s word came alive that said “bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.” Instead of a threat being delivered, he was presented with a gift on behalf of his new neighbor. Immediately, his heart melted, he apologized for his actions, and sent her a promise of no more problems from him. It’s been over 15 years now and he’s been as quiet as a church mouse! His ways are not our ways.
Our neighbor can live next door, occupy an office next to ours, or be standing in front of us in the line at Walmart. Matthew 12:34 says “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” and Proverbs 18:21 states that “the tongue has the power of life and death”. Therefore, we pray for a cleansing of heart from anger toward our neighbor (and we keep our mouth shut until it happens)!
Questions To Ponder
What types of character traits are being contrasted in this verse?
What does this verse say is an indication of “understanding”? What shows that someone “lacks sense?”
How does this verse contrast from the world’s perception of what someone with “understanding” does?
Think about times when you’ve spoken ill of someone you later regretted. How could remaining silent in the moment allowed for greater understanding and response that honors Jesus?
Scripture Memory | January | Proverbs 17:9
“Whoever would foster love covers over an offense,
but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”