The Chicago Tribune ran an  interview with NBA Commissioner David Stern recently. One quote stayed with me. When asked about the good advice he had received over the years, he replied, "Don't miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut."

That's good advice, isn't it?

King Solomon would definitely agree with David Stern. In Proverbs 10:10 he declared, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” That’s a wonderful picture, isn’t it? A chattering fool. A simpleton with a dunce cap talking up a storm.

I knew a lady like that out in
California. She had had a hard life and along the way a screw sort of worked itself loose inside her head. Every time I saw her, I knew I was in for a 20 minute monologue. Not complaining, really. Just non-stop talk. The funny thing was if you tried to interrupt her she would raise her voice and start talking faster. She was a fair-sized woman so if she got you cornered there was no escape. If there’s such a thing as a compulsive talker,  that’s what she was.

What’s more, she came to church every Sunday and was as loyal as she could be. Whenever we had a church supper, she would be in there with the rest of the women talking ninety miles as hour. We became good friends and many times I was glad to see her because when we talked I didn’t have to say anything. And I truly think she couldn't help herself. For whatever reason, should couldn't stop talking.

Solomon has something slightly different in mind. A chattering fool is someone who  could stop talking, but  keeps on jabbering anyway. And in context, it must refer to a person who always has an explanation, a reason, an excuse for not doing what he is supposed to do.

That’s hard, isn’t it? Just to do what you are told. Most kids have a hard time learning that. So do most adults. Our natural impulse when we are told to do something is to ask, “Why?” That presumes that unless we fully understand or agree we don’t have to obey. As a general principle, that kind of attitude will get you into trouble more often than not.

All of us are guilty of talking too much from time to time. When a soldier is given an order, the proper response is obedience, not discussion. There is a time to talk and a time to listen and there is also a time to do you are told. As Solomon says, when the time for obedience has come, too much talk makes you look like a chattering fool. Or to paraphrase David Stern, never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut.

 


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