Gleanings From the Proverbs

Maintain Self control and confidentiality

(Prov 25:9,10 GNB) If you and your neighbor have a difference of opinion, settle it between yourselves and do not reveal any secrets. Otherwise everyone will learn that you can’t keep a secret, and you will never live down the shame.

Today we continue our series, “Gleanings from the Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” I was embarrased a few years ago when I had to go to court for a matter that could have easily been resolved on a one to one. It’s obvious that Solomon was an advocate of settling differences one-on-one; or with the least amount of people possible. Just a few verses earlier Solomon says when a person does something we don’t like, we should simply address the issue with them directly, instead of talking to others about it. I am not sure who said it, but a few years ago I heard this quote and I have been using it ever since: “If I do something you like, tell others. If I do something you do not like, tell me.” The point being that if you have a problem with something I did that you should simply address with the issue with me, without gossiping about it to others.

If I had to guess why most people don’t like addressing issues with others it would be to avoid confrontation. While there are certainly some who love confrontation, most people don’t. But you can confront an issue, in love, without being confrontational. If we truly care about the other person, we will address the issue. If you can see a fault in your brother, time and time again, and walk away without it affecting you, then you truly don’t care about your brother. But if you care about him, and you honestly believe the issue is a problem, then you will bring it up, in love. However, bringing up an issue, in love, does not guarantee that emotions will not get stirred. We can all think back to instances when we approached someone, with good intentions, only to have the discussion take a turn for the worse. Solomon’s advise to us today is that even when our emotions get stirred and our tempers get flared, we should never divulge information that was shared with us in confidentiality. The Message Bible paraphrase of this passage reads: “In the heat of an argument, don’t betray confidences; Word is sure to get around, and no one will trust you.”

Now let me address the latter portion of this passage before we close. While it takes years to build a strong reputation, it takes only a few seconds to taint it, or outright destroy it. This is why you have to get a hold of your emotions. If you can’t control your emotions, then it is only a matter of time before you say something you will later regret. And if what you said involved confidential information, then you will be known as someone who is not trustworthy. If you can’t be trusted with secrets, you will probably not be trusted with anything of significance.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1. Make every effort to settle issues one-on-one.

2. Confront the issue, in love, without being confrontational.

3. If you don’t rule your emotions, you will be ruled by them.

4. A few uncontrolled words can damage or destroy a reputation you have spent years developing.

5. Never – under any circumstances – divulge what was shared with you in confidentiality.

6. If someone can’t trust you with a secret, they may not trust with you anything at all.

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