A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27 NLT)
One of my English teachers in high school, Mrs. Williams, often reminded us, "A word to the wise is sufficient." It was one of her favorite statements. When giving an assignment, "A word to the wise is sufficient." When explaining the semester requirements, "A word to the wise is sufficient."
I can remember hearing those words and thinking, "Why does she say that so much? What does that even mean?"
Obviously, I did not "get it." I "get it" now. A word ... just a word ... is enough for the wise person to get the message. Many words are not necessary. Repeated words are not necessary. "A word to the wise is sufficient."
Although I think I understand the message better now, at times I'm not sure I heed the message any better than I did when I was a teenager sitting in Mrs. Williams' English class.
There are times when I struggle to let "a word" be sufficient. In writing, though I try to say what I want to say in as few words as possible, I find I often use too many words. I want to over-explain. Perhaps I do not trust my words, or perhaps I don't trust that the reader will get the full message with just a word.
When I'm teaching, I tend to use too many words. When I am preaching, I tend to use too many words. (No "Amen!" from the crowd please.) When I'm counseling, I tend to use too many words.
- When someone needs to correct me, I prefer just a word.
- When someone compliments me, I prefer just a word.
- When someone is concerned about me, I prefer just a word.
I love it when communication is so natural that just "a word" is all that is needed to tell a story, convey a thought, or to express the deepest of feelings.
Solomon said it like this, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear" (Proverbs 25:11-12 NIV)
The Message phrases it this way: "The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, and a wise friend's timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger."
"A word to the wise is sufficient."
Thanks, Mrs. Williams. I think I'm finally getting it.