“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”
One of the keys to not having to clean up a mess you got yourself into is not to be quick to answer. Any lawyer will tell you to listen carefully to the questions asked before you deliberately give an answer, and to be as brief as you can with your answer. What is often used against you are the words you answered with, and that could have been avoided had you waited and been deliberate to answer the question.
The verse above says that it is folly and shame for a person to answer a matter or a situation before they hear it. The word “folly” means a lack of good sense. In other words, it is a foolish action to give an answer before you hear the matter. This matter could be a simple question that one asks, or it could be a matter that you hear about another, or it could be a matter about your church, or it could be a matter that you are dealing with in your family. It doesn’t matter what the situation is; you are acting foolish if you answer the matter before you hear it. To answer a matter before hearing it means four things that I would like to share with you.
First, to answer a matter without hearing the whole matter is foolish. In other words, it is giving an answer without someone being able to finish their whole story that they were telling you about the situation; it is shutting down the rest of the information because you have already made up your mind. Many people make a foolish decision as soon as they hear what they do not like, instead of hearing the whole story that likely could save them from making a foolish decision. Don’t allow yourself to make a decision in the middle of a matter being presented to you, but wait to hear the whole explanation before making the decision.
Second, to answer a matter without hearing the whole story is foolish. To hear one side of the story and make up your mind without hearing the other side will make you look foolish. Many have made a decision based on what seemed to be a legitimate decision, but it wasn’t the whole story. Certainly, hearing one side of the story can make a decision sound legitimate, but the other side of the story may present a different light that could alter your decision. If you don’t want to deal with the shame of making a wrong decision about a matter, wait until you hear both sides of the story.
Third, to answer a matter with your mind already made up is foolish. If you have already made up your mind before listening to both sides of the story or before hearing any side of the story, you have not listened to the matter even though you heard it. To hear a matter means to leave the decision until the end and not make a decision before you hear it. It is nearly impossible for your mind to be changed once you have already made up a decision; therefore, never allow yourself to make a decision until you hear the whole matter.
Fourth, to answer a matter before you put the decision on trial is foolish. The purpose of going slowly in making decisions is to put the matter on the witness stand to try it before placing your verdict. Hearing a matter is researching the decision to find out what is the best decision to make. To make a decision without putting the decision on trial will make you look foolish when the verdict of the matter is revealed by time. If you want to keep from looking like a fool, you would be wise to hear the whole matter before making a decision.