But Only In Expressing His Opinion

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion (Proverbs 18:2).

Solomon says a lot about fools in Proverbs, of course he says a lot about wise people as well in contrast to the fool. What is a fool in the Biblical sense? You might want to search the book of Proverbs for that word and see all Solomon has to say about it. If you boil it down to the essentials, it comes down to this: a fool does not listen to anyone but himself.

The above proverb teaches us that a fool’s delight is not in understanding wisdom or receiving instruction. He only wants to tell you what he thinks.

It is just another reminder that a big part of communication is listening. A huge component of learning is listening. But if I’m always talking, and I really love the sound of my own voice, how can I learn? How can I effectively communicate when I’m the only one talking?

My daughter Lindsay calls this a “versation,” not a “con-versation.” She’s right on the money about that.

Do you notice how some folks just dominate a conversation? They just don’t know when to take a breath and let someone else say something. For some reason, they don’t recognize social cues to see that someone else is trying to talk. A person may be done listening a long time ago, but do I recognize that, or do I just keep prattling on? We may be perfectly comfortable in teacher mode, but are we just as comfortable in “student” mode? Do we assume that we have the right approach and answers to each situation and that others are indebted to hear us talk about it?

It’s not that we want to call ourselves or others fools, but it would be good to take a cue from the proverb here and recognize that maybe we talk too much and listen far too little. And when we behave that way, we lack a true heart and desire for understanding. We won’t understand other people, because we really aren’t interested in it, and we won’t understand God’s truth, because we really are only in love with our opinions.

Ask more questions to engage others in conversation.

Be willing to let someone speak freely even if he or she has a different opinion or approach than you do.

Commit to hearing someone else’s story instead of being in such a hurry to tell your own.

Devote yourself to prayer for the Lord to give you courage and understanding to close your mouth and open your ears.

And they listened to him until this word

Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ” And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!” (Acts 22:21-22).

The apostle Paul was defending himself in front of an angry Jewish mob in Jerusalem. Some had falsely accused him of taking Gentiles into the temple. If there was any word I would not have said in front of this angry Jewish mob, it would have been “Gentiles.” Especially in a sentence that claimed the Messiah Jesus had sent Paul to the Gentiles, whom the Jews considered as dogs. But the Holy Spirit in His eternal wisdom guided Paul to say these words, and you can see the reaction of the crowd. At this word, they shut down. No more listening, it’s time to kill Paul (Acts 22:23).

The problem here was not Paul’s choice of words or his timing or his presentation, it was the heart of the people hearing the message.

It brings up a point or two for consideration about listening.

How well do I listen?

Are there times when someone at work, school or home is trying to talk to me and they say “the wrong thing” or say it in “the wrong way” and I just shut down and refuse to hear anything else they say?

Would you and I be characterized as someone who truly lets someone freely talk to us without freaking out, overreacting and shutting down?

Paul said the “wrong word” to these Jews and it was over. They were not going to listen to another word. They were so mad they wanted him dead. Now you may not want someone dead, but you may kill a relationship because you refuse to listen. Think about it.

Nicodemus was one Jew who understood this principle, even though he was outnumbered in the Jewish council.

Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (John 7:50-51)

Have you experienced these things? Are there people in your life that you cannot talk freely to because of how you know they will react? We don’t like that quality in others, understandably, but we don’t want to have that same characteristic. We as God’s men want to be the kind of men who will let others freely talk without shutting down, making quick judgments, or walking away, or over-talking, etc.

He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him (Proverbs 18:13)

It would help us to do more praying before and during conversations to ask the Lord to open our ears and muzzle our mouths.

How Good Are Your Listening Skills?

Okay men, how good are your listening skills? Would your wife describe you as a good listener? You know…I cringe thinking of that question.

Take a free online quiz to assess how good of a listener you are. Or simply ask your wife, “So, how can I improve my listening skills in our relationship?” Yikes, that’s tough!

Very simple, but that is the thought for today.

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1:19).

See, I Have Listened To You

Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed and from avenging myself by my own hand. Nevertheless, as the LORD God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male.” So David received from her hand what she had brought him and said to her, “Go up to your house in peace. See, I have listened to you and granted your request” (1 Samuel 25:32-35).

Please read 1 Samuel 25 to get whole context of this discussion between David and Abigail. But for now, let’s quickly summarize what happened.

David was the anointed next king of Israel and he was being chased for his life by the current king of Israel, Saul. If you read everything about David up to this point, you can see why God called him a “man after His own heart.” David showed, up to this point, great faith, courage, humility and trust in God. But we come to 1 Samuel 25 and David snapped. Have you ever snapped, men?

A very rich and self-absorbed man named Nabal had treated David and his men with utter contempt and complete disrespect. Nabal by the way, was Abigail’s husband. Up to this point, David had shown great restraint and patience in God, but when Nabal treated David and his men the way he did, David went off the deep end. He was ready to slaughter the whole household of males by morning light (vs. 22). He geared up 400 of his soldiers and they were laser focused to deal out death and destruction.

In comes Abigail. Again, you will have to read 1 Samuel 25, but Abigail quickly came to David and his men and put herself in harm’s way to reason with him and call him down from this path of destruction. She reasoned with him about God’s working in his life, and about the dangerous consequences of the actions he was about to take.

David listened to Abigail! Any man who has ever been charged up with testosterone and adrenaline can understand and appreciate how hard it is to come down from that course and calm down…but David did. I do not want you to underestimate how amazing this was for David to stop, listen to Abigail, calm down, and change his course. Men, there is a great example for us in this.

  • He acknowledged God’s working in and through Abigail.
  • He recognized her discernment in how she handled this situation.
  • He admitted the course he was on was destructive.
  • He was willing to back down and calm down in front of his men.

Men, if you have a good, godly woman in your life…number one, thank the Lord Jesus for her! Secondly, listen to her. She just might save your life, and your soul.

Listening to the “Little People”

In II Kings 5 we have the story of Naaman, a highly respected man, a valiant warrior, and a leper. In verse 2, we are told of a little girl from Israel that was taken captive by the Arameans and is put into service waiting on Naaman’s wife. This little girl, aware of Naaman’s condition, says “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” (verse 3)

This revelation causes Naaman to ask permission to head to Samaria and the king of Aram grants permission and sends Naaman to the king of Israel with a letter which says “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (verse 6)

The king’s response to the letter in verse 7 is “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending to me to cure a man of his leprosy? But consider now, and see how he is seeking a quarrel against me.” Verse 8 says that the king also tore his clothes, this showing his grief. When Elisha hears of the king’s response he says “Why have you torn your clothes? Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (verse 8)

I find it very interesting that the little captive girl had confidence in Elisha and God but the king of Israel responds with despair and grief. She has enough confidence to approach her mistress and tell her about the prophet. I believe it is safe to assume that she wasn’t highly educated and we are unaware of any personal interaction she had with Elisha. But she has heard the stories and she has faith. The king, on the other hand, would have been educated and did have personal experience with Elisha yet seems to have no faith.

And now let’s look at Naaman’s response. He had enough confidence in the little captive girl to approach his king and make the journey to Samaria. Maybe it wasn’t confidence as much as clinging to hope. Yet when Elisha gives him some simple instructions Naaman goes away furious saying “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.” (verse 11) And who is it that provides Naaman wisdom and clarity in the situation? In verse 13 his servant says “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

There are a number of things we can learn from these events but what I learned today is that wisdom often comes from the perceived “little” people in our lives. The ones that we might deem as less important, or uneducated, or of a lower social status. They can give us insights we overlook. So I’m going to do my best to listen and observe. To hear what everyone in my life says and not discount anyone because of what they look like, how they make their living, or what they’ve been through.

Becoming a Better Listener

The thought for today is…How well do you listen to your children?

“But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19)

Here are some basic indications of whether we need to work on our listening skills:

  1. If you are doing all the talking (i.e. lecturing), by definition you are not listening very much.
  2. When your children keep saying things like, “Dad, you’re not listening,” then you need to pay attention to this cue. They are probably right.
  3. If you keep interrupting, you are not taking time to let your son or daughter explain what’s on his or her mind.
  4. If you are thinking of what to say next, then you are really not waiting to hear their side of the story.
  5. If you assume what you heard instead of asking questions to clarify, then you become the judge without a fair trial.

“He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Keep in mind, dads, that our children first get an understanding of approaching the “Father in heaven” by their experience in approaching their father on earth.

  • Are you approachable?
  • Does your child feel like you are going to pounce on her verbally before she even finishes her sentence?

Today, take some time to reflect upon this. May the Lord give us the patience, humility, and approachable spirit that willingly listens to our children.