Spending time with a wise person is … well, wise. But hanging out with a know-it-all is downright annoying. I learned this the hard way.

A few years ago, some college students compared me to Sheldon Cooper, the quintessential nerdy brainiac on The Big Bang Theory. They made the comparison because I was frequently inserting tidbits of trivia, history, and other non-essential information into our conversations.

  • Honey is the only food that does not spoil.
  • It’s impossible to lick your own elbow.
  • Seuss invented the word “nerd.”
  • Most car horns are in the key of F.

Y’know, that sort of useless information. These two students’ comparison to Sheldon Cooper was meant as a compliment, and that’s how I took it. But later as I saw episodes of The Big Bang Theory, I realized Sheldon Cooper is really annoying with all this useless information.

Wait a minute. I was being compared to someone who can be really annoying. Gee, thanks.

The Bible came to my rescue. I found this in the Book of Proverbs:

“I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion” (Prov. 8:12).

Notice two key traits of wisdom:

  1. Wisdom possesses knowledge, but knowledge doesn’t necessarily possess wisdom. We can know a lot of facts but be totally clueless on how to live life based on those facts.
  2. Wisdom possesses discretion. Wisdom knows that sometimes the wise thing to do is just keep your mouth shut. Share what you know shrewdly and with prudence.

It’s never been my intention to try to impress others or deceive them into thinking I’m smart. But in my exuberance to discover interesting tidbits—“Did you know peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite?”—I may well give them that impression.

Wisdom calls for discretion, knowing what to share and when to share it. That’s not always easy to answer—I need wisdom for that!—but I know I’m always on wise ground to share that which encourages the other person. As Paul said,

“No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

No one really needs to know that a snail can sleep for three years, but we can all use some encouragement and grace.

I think I’ll change topics.

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