Nancy Talks About Discretion

A few of you mentioned listening to Nancy’s program on discretion through Revive Our Hearts. What an important subject for women of all ages! The dictionary defines discretion as “the quality of being discreet, esp. with reference to one's own actions or speech,” in other words, it is carefully guarding what we say (and what we don’t say). I’ve included parts of the transcript from Nancy’s radio broadcast below. I’ve also broken it up with some questions to help you process what Nancy is saying. You can check out the entire transcript, or listen to a podcast of this session at

Q: Does Scripture show us what it looks like when a woman lacks discretion?

Nancy: We’ve been looking at a portrait of a foolish woman as painted for us in Proverbs 7. I want to begin reading in verse 21 as we see how this foolish woman has seduced and ensnared a foolish young man, a man who is not her husband. Her husband is away on a business trip and she has gone after this young man. She has drawn him into her trap. Verse 21 shows how she actually lures him in. With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering [or the smoothness] of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway [or immediately] as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life (verses 21-23). And now this writer says: Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth (verse 24). “Listen up,” he’s saying. This is really, really important that you pay attention. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded; yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (verses 25-27). We see in verse 21, as we did in the first verse describing this woman back in verse 5, that she uses her speech, her words to entice him. “With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering [or smoothness] of her lips she forced him.” You don’t usually think of women as forcing men. We think sometimes of men as forcing women in a physical sense. But a woman has a weapon that is as strong and stronger than any man has in his physical strength. It’s this little thing called the tongue, which is attached to the heart. What’s in the heart comes out in the tongue and has the ability to absolutely overpower any man. When I read this verse, I can’t help but think about another woman in the Old Testament. Her name is Delilah. We know how she enticed Samson. It talks here about the foolish woman who has much fair speech that causes this man to yield. She just overpowers this man with her persistence and her words. She gets him ultimately to yield to whatever it is that she wants.

Q. As girls, we like to talk! How can this lead to trouble?

Nancy: It talks about much fair speech here. That’s a convicting point to me as we’re examining our own hearts and saying, “Lord, are there any characteristics of this foolish woman in my life?” She speaks a lot. Proverbs tells us that in the multitude of words sin is not absent. When we talk too much, we will sin. Women, this is something we need to ask God to search our own hearts about and to show us, “Are we women who just talk too much, who say everything we think?” It all has to come out. I mean even good things. That’s one of the dangers, by the way, of being a teacher of the Word to others. You talk a lot. One of the things I often pray before I teach the Word is this prayer from Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord” (nkjv). I pray, “Oh, Lord, I know that I’m going to be saying a lot today. Help me not to sin with my lips. May my words be truthful and pure. Guard my tongue.” The way we do that is by guarding our hearts…

Q. What are some practical ways we can begin to guard our tongues?

Nancy: Before we speak, we need to make sure that we’ve asked the Lord: * Is this what You want me to say? * Are these the right words? * Is this the right timing? * Is this the right spirit in which to say these words? * Have I already said too much, and is it time just to be quiet?”

Q. So the Bible warns us to be careful not to talk too much. But, what else does it tell us about the way we should use our words?

Nancy: The contrast to this foolish woman again can be found in Proverbs 31 with the virtuous woman. I love that verse—verse 26—where it says, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (njkv). So many times I ask the Lord as I go out into the course of my day and I know I’m going to be interacting with people and in conversations and discussions. I say, “Lord, let the words of my mouth be kind and wise.” If it’s not kind and it’s not wise, don’t say it. I think sometimes men just get tired of hearing us talk and they just give in. If we’re going to insist on talking and talking and talking, they may give in just to stop talking. That’s why whether it’s in your marriage or in relationships with other men, if you want to be a wise woman, ask God to give you a wise and kind heart that will express itself in wise and kind words. Ask yourself, “Am I speaking as kindly to those in my own home as I do to those at work, at church, to other women, to other men?” Shouldn’t our kindest words be reserved for those who are closest to us? Yet so often those are the ones we take advantage of. And those words, like a piercing of a sword, Proverbs says, can be so deadly.

Q: What happens if we don’t learn to be discreet?

Nancy: As we come to the close of Proverbs chapter 7, this chapter ends on a very serious note. I think that’s because God wants us to take this whole concept very seriously. If we let these characteristics of foolishness go unchecked in our lives or in the lives of our children, God wants us to see where we’re going to end up… Then the last verse of the chapter: “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (verse 27). That’s not a happy ending. I think what the writer of Proverbs is saying is, “The end of a foolish woman is not a happy ending.” She may think she has a happy life, and for a while she may. She may have some fun being foolish. Yes, sin has pleasures for a season. But the writer here in the Proverbs is saying, “Look ahead to the end of the story and see where it will lead you. If you are a foolish woman, this is where you will end up and this is where you will take others with you.” The bottom line is, this foolish woman is deadly. If you are a foolish woman, you are a deadly woman. To whatever extent I allow foolishness to stay in my own heart, I will be a deadly woman. We see this throughout the Proverbs, not just in this chapter. In chapter 2 of Proverbs the Scripture says, “Her house,” speaking again of this foolish woman, “Her house inclines unto death, her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again” (verses 18-19, KJV). This is a dead end street. The writer is warning his son about this kind of woman. But should not we, as women, take warning as well about being this kind of woman?

Nancy helps us understand that what we say matters! I know that this can be a difficult truth, but it is so important for us to grasp. In what way have you seen the destructive power of words in your own life? Do you sense that the Lord is asking you to change a specific way that you communicate with others? 

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.