Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Proverbs 11:8-13 Listen up!

“God gave you two ears and one mouth so you could listen twice as much as you speak!” Have you heard that one? It’s a favorite of parents and teachers who want to quiet children! But it has been my experience that the most frequent violators of this rule have been adults. Because I’m so social, and love to hear my own opinions, I have had to learn to REALLY fight my tendency to want to speak and consciously choose to listen. One thing that really is annoying is to be in a “discussion” with a group when one person talks over everyone else.

In today’s passage from Proverbs, three verses are dedicated to the mouth and what comes out of it: 

With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor,

    but through knowledge the righteous escape...   

Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,

    but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.   

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor,

    but a man of understanding holds his tongue. 

 A gossip betrays a confidence,

    but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. (Proverbs 11:9, 11-13)

The mouth can be so destructive! It can decimate a person’s life through gossip or slander, and our verse 11 tells us it can even destroy a whole city! A betrayed confidence can ruin many relationships. I’m always telling my students to avoid telling secrets, even to your most trusted friend, because a secret is the hardest thing in the world to keep. The temptation that is inherent in knowing a secret is that you want others to know that you know! It’s powerful to be the one who “knows.” So, the urge to repeat a secret is very great, indeed! When you have found a friend who won’t violate your confidence, you have truly found a jewel! I’m so grateful for mine!

Which brings me to the listener! One might assume that if you are an encourager you should be speaking lots - blessing everyone with your words as you go through your day. But the reality is that a true encourager is someone who can listen! In order to sincerely bless someone, you must know what her needs are. You need to listen not only to what she speaks from her heart, but you also must hear the Holy Spirit to give encouragement that truly lifts up and strengthens.

The best training I ever had in restraining my mouth was during my years as a discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship. We were asked to NOT participate in the discussion of the lessons so much as to facilitate them. It was hard for me to keep my lips shut, but it so trained me to listen! And it has helped me as a teacher to allow my students to drive discussions in the classroom!

I don’t know about you, but I would not have minded it had God designed us with four ears instead of two!  

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