vs. Rashness
Knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions

Key Verse

“Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth.”
Proverbs 19:2

The operational definition of cautiousness is “knowing how important right timing is in accomplishing right actions.” A cautious person understands that right timing is crucial. For example, retrieving a base­ball from the road for your brother is helpful, but if a car is approaching, that is not the right time to chase the ball! Cautiousness means that you first look carefully to make sure there is no foreseeable danger. Then, if no traffic is present, the right action can be taken. Many potential problems and dangers can be avoided by carefully and thoughtfully speaking and acting at the right time.

A cautious person will notice and heed warnings and adjust his actions accordingly.
The consequences of swallowing a hot drink too quickly will remind a rash person to slow down.

The opposite of cautiousness is rashness, which means “proceeding hastily with lack of consideration.” A rash person is quick to speak, act, or react, following his natural impulses rather than taking the time to think through the ramifications, results, or consequences of his behavior. He tends to neglect gathering essential information before making a decision. James 1:19 says, “. . . Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” A person lacking cautiousness foolishly disregards God’s direction, the feelings of others, or practical safety rules. He may jump onto his bike without taking time to put on his helmet or run outside hastily before putting on his shoes. He tends to act impulsively, ignoring advice and overlooking an opportunity to learn from others. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”

Evaluation Questions

  • Before I act, do I carefully consider how my actions will affect people around me?
  • Do I speak impulsively, interrupting others, or do I prudently choose what, how, and when to speak?
  • Am I watchful and prayerful, asking God to expose potential dangers in my path?
  • Am I careful to heed cautions in my spirit as well as warnings from others?
  • Do I recognize when a time is fitting to first ask permission from an authority?
  • What safety rules does my family follow and why?
  • Have I obtained permission before moving or borrowing someone else’s belongings?
  • Do I understand the difference between cautiousness and fearfulness?
  • What is an example of a “right action” at the “wrong time”?

More About Cautiousness

“Preparation is not something suddenly accomplished, but a process steadily maintained.”
Oswald Chambers
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Cautiousness with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Realize that His ways are higher than mine.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8–9

Consider the consequences.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7–8

Seek God first.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Learn from others.

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:9

Be willing to wait.

“Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.” Ruth 3:18

Think before I act.

“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7

Follow safety rules.

“When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.” Deuteronomy 22:8

Ask permission.

“And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man . . . he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.” Luke 23:50–52

Speak at the right time.

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2

Watch for danger.

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3

Cautiousness in Scripture

Esther’s Wise and Timely Appeal

“Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me . . . . I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
Esther 4:16
King Ahasuerus announced the search for a new queen! Officers were appointed to scour the kingdom for beautiful young candidates. Many maidens, including Esther, were selected to undergo a year of preparation and then appear before the moody king. Esther had been reared by her God-fearing cousin Mordecai, who instructed her to keep her Jewish identity a secret. Mordecai daily walked by the palace to learn how Esther was faring. Finally, the day came for her to go before King Ahasuerus. He favored Esther above all the other women and crowned her as his new queen! Often Mordecai sat nearby in the king’s gate. When he overheard a plot to kill the king, he swiftly reported it and saved the king’s life. Some time afterward, Queen Esther received word that Mordecai and other Jews in the city were wailing hopelessly. When she inquired, Mordecai explained that the king had signed a new law that sentenced all Jews to death and authorized the taking away of their property! What would Mordecai ask Queen Esther to do? What would happen if she spoke too soon or too late? How would she prepare to approach the king? Why would right timing be vital for Queen Esther’s dangerous mission? Would she succeed?

Revealed in Nature

Prairie Dog

The prairie dog builds an earthen dike around the entrance of its burrow to prevent flash floods from destroying its home. This mound also serves as a vantage point from which a prairie dog can sit and survey his surroundings, scanning the nearby area for danger.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children will be encouraged to take wise action at the right time, allowing them to avoid much trouble, wasted time, and heartache.

View the Cautiousness booklet sample:

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Free Resources for Cautiousness

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
Cautious people are those who have conquered the urge to speak before they get all the facts.

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