A little old lady answered a knock at the door only to be confronted by a slick-talking vacuum cleaner salesman.
“Hi, madam,” the young man said as he barged into her home. “I’d like to take a couple of minutes of your time to show you best high-powered electric vacuum cleaner ever made.”
Before the woman could explain that she had fallen on hard times financially and couldn’t possibly afford a new vacuum cleaner, the salesman dumped a bucket of dirt right in the middle of her living room floor.
The woman, struck speechless by the horrible mess, looked at the salesman in shock and disgust.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “This vacuum cleaner will suck up every bit of that dirt from your carpet or I’ll eat it.”
The woman handed the salesman a spoon, and said, “I hope you have a good appetite, because they cut my electricity off this morning.”
Well, obviously, that salesman got himself into a fix by speaking first and listening later. The Bible gives stern warnings about such behavior, telling us in Proverbs 18:13 that “this is foolishness and disgrace.”
The Bible gives numerous warnings along those lines, telling us also that “everyone should be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
There’s an old story about a frog that wanted to go South with the birds for the winter. But it was much too far for a frog to hop. This particular frog came up with what he believed was a great idea. He convinced a couple of birds to each take the end of a stick in their beaks and allow him to clamp down with his mouth on the middle of the stick.
When the birds took off, the frog went airborne as well. It was working like a charm. That frog was so very proud of himself for the great idea. He passed over a couple of farmers who looked up in amazement as the two birds and the frog passed overhead with the stick in their mouths.
“What a brilliant idea,” one of the farmers said to the other. “Whoever thought up that plan must be a genius. I’d just bet it was one of those birds.”
When the frog heard that, he just couldn’t keep quiet. “It was meeeeeeeeeee,” he said, as he tumbled toward the ground.
The moral to that story is that when you’re flying high, so to speak, it’s often wise to keep your mouth shut.
Let me close with a very familiar quote from Abraham Lincoln who said: “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
Roger Alford is a Southern Baptist writer and speaker. Reach him at [email protected]