The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
pon·der – verb– to think about (something) carefully, especially before making a decision or reaching a conclusion.
What decisions in life do you ponder? We tend to stop and think more deeply about the bigger decisions, and rightfully so, but I wonder how much more effective our Christian witness would be if we made a habit out of podering before we speak. A great theologian once said, “Think twice before we speak once” and this is a foundational precept of the Christian life that appears time and time again in Scripture.
More often than not, we do the exact opposite of what James calls us to. We tend to be quick to anger, quick to speak, and slow to listen (Jas. 1:19) which often leads to our mouths pouring out “evil things.” Theologian Bruce Waltke says, “The wise person has a ready answer (see Pr.15:23), but he still thinks long and hard about what he says and how to say it (see Pr.15:2). The proverb assumes that the righteous are considerate and have the self-control to reflect and not to react emotionally, unlike the wicked who only want to vent their malice.” The critical question for us is this: Do we care enough about the other person to be considerate of them?
Jesus calls us to love God and love others, while at the same time having love for ourselves (Mth. 22:37-40). We love God well when we value and care enough about all of His image bearers to ponder what we will say to them before we say it. We love others well when we seek their best interest over our own, including our sinful desires to put ourselves first. And finally, we love ourselves well when we work to keep a clean conscience before God and pursue the blessings of righteous living. “Pondering how to answer” gives us the ability to do all three.