Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. A time when families get together to stuff themselves with turkey and pumpkin pie then lounge on couches to watch football. And when you put that many relatives in one place, their common history and contrary opinions can erupt into conflict at any moment if someone says the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person.

Enter this week’s character quality. Discretion. The ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes which could result in undesirable consequences. The quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information. Showing good judgment, especially cautious reserve in speech. Being careful of what you say and do.

As Proverbs states: “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” (Proverbs 2:11 NIV) Discretion is like a guardrail along a cliff to keep you from falling into dangerous territory.

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” (Proverb 19:11 NAS) Hmm. I can think of plenty of transgressions to overlook.

Joseph used discretion when he fled from Potiphar’s wife. (Genesis 39) Abigail used discretion when she rode out to appease David before his men destroyed her household in retaliation for her foolish husband’s words. (1 Samuel 25) Paul used discretion when he retracted his judgmental statements against the High Priest. (Acts 23:1-5)

If they can use discretion in stressful situations, then why can’t we? It just might make this Thanksgiving dinner a peaceful one.

What about you? Do you have difficult relatives coming for Thanksgiving? Is it hard to bite your tongue and avoid stirring up conflict? How does stress affect discretion?

Character Matters – Discretion
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