1. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:27-28).
Restraint in speech, both in content and manner, is a mark of a Christian. How we say something can be as beneficial or harmful as what we say. The unrestrained man, in either content or manner of speech, is an example of one without knowledge and understanding. As we meet and hear people who exhibit these characteristics, we ought to treat their report with great discretion.
2. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2).
A mark of folly is a rush to judgment without hearing words of “understanding”. That often means delaying speech and judgment until better informed. We are all prone to this – we receive a report of another person’s alleged sin and are often inclined to believe it. Some will seek to publicize that alleged sin to further their own goals. Scripture has something to say about that also “Whoever covers an offense seeks love but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9).
3. “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Proverbs 18:7).
Sometimes we just cannot help ourselves. We have to say something. Whether we know or are ignorant of the situation, we just find ourselves having to speak. This proverb warns us that the fool, who “takes no pleasure in understanding” (18:2), receives a just recompense for his conduct. His mouth invites a beating and his lips bring his ruin. This may come through many forms: if the Christian behaves like the fool, the Lord will chasten him. If the fool remains in his behavior, it will lead to his everlasting ruin.
4. “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Proverbs 19:8).
This is the danger, the great danger of being a gossip and receiving gossip. Gossip tastes so good on the tongue! When it reaches the stomach, it causes nausea – spiritual nausea. It titillates but ultimately destroys both the subject and object of the gossip. What a dangerous sin it is to receive an ill report of someone. To be sure, there are times where we have to do so. However, how we conduct ourselves in such times will ensure we do not fall foul of this sin. To receive a bad report without checking sources, speaking to the people in question, or silencing the gossip, put the hearer in great danger.
5. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
Much like point 2, this proverb reveals the actions and the end of the proud. Why would one answer before he hears? Why would one pass judgment before finding out the facts? Why would one think it wise to comment out of ignorance? The simple answer is pride. JC Ryle once noted that some are so full of themselves, there is no room for God. That is what pride does and it always leads to folly and shame.