Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Answering Before Listening

"He who answers before listening -- that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18:13 NIV); "Before hearing, answer not, and interrupt no one in the middle of his speech" (Sirach 11:8 NAB); "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak..." (James 1:19 NIV).

We interrupt God when we question and shout "Why?" in the midst of His workings for us. Too, in our conduct toward others, we are so anxious to prove to them how wise we are that we can't wait to mow them down with our own philosophy, right or wrong. We can never learn while we trip over our own tongue trying to prove what we perceive to be another's ignorance.

In social relations we are too quick to form superficial judgments of others. It's a very narrow mind and heart that will not allow another to express his or her beliefs and feelings. It is hurtful, hateful and foolish to assume that we have the last word about anything at all. People and life have many fascinating facets that only the open mind and heart will find by observing and listening to others. Most of the time this means being speechless!

"Anyone who teaches novelties and refuses to fall in with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine that tallies with godliness, is a conceited, ignorant creature, with a morbid passion for controversy and argument which leads only to envy, dissension, insults, insinuations, and constant friction between people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the Truth" (1 Timothy 6:3,4 Moffatt). How we love to press and impress others, to the point of imposition. Rather than knocking others over with our wit and expertise, we might be better off taking James' advice and try quiet courtesy.

"Some take a pride in being quick. They answer a matter before they hear it, hear it out, nay, as soon as they but hear of it. They think it is their honour to take up a cause suddenly; and, when they have heard one side, they think the matter so plain that they need not trouble themselves to hear the other; they are already apprized of it, and masters of all the merits of the cause. Whereas, though a ready wit is an agreeable thing to play with, it is solid judgment and sound wisdom that do business. Those that take a pride in being quick commonly fall under the just reproach of being impertinent. It is folly for a man to go about to speak to a thing which he does not understand, or to pass sentence upon a matter which he is not truly and fully informed of, and has not patience to make a strict enquiry into; and, if it be folly, it is and will be shame" (Anonymous).

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