Confession: I’ve always been a far better talker than a good listener. I’m not sure there is any way to say this next line without sounding arrogant, but here goes: I love to talk. I love to converse with people. I love to teach. I will even at times talk to myself. Crazy?!?! I recently read that the average woman speaks about 20,000 words per day compared to men who average about 7,000. Wow! So, I can just blame it on my gender then?
Of course, that is a generalization, and many men speak more than that. Likewise, many women speak less than that. I, on the other hand, might speak more than that. Hmmm. Proverbs has much to say about our words, and funny enough, when it comes to our words, there is wisdom in restraining them.
As we read through Proverbs 18 today, look for words that refer to listening and being a good listener. Also, look for words or phrases that refer to speaking. More often than not, you’ll find the fool in the mix of the words and phrases that refer to speaking and speaking often. There must be a wise connection to be made there!
“Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2
“The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.” Proverbs 18:6
“To answer before listening—
that is folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13
And those are just a few! Whether you’re like me and speak often or you reserve your words, these Proverbs are for all of us. Even on our best days, we are prone to the selfishness of our flesh. It is far too easy for us to air our own opinions and to speak before listening. It takes wisdom to be a good listener, to hear all the facts, to be patient in conversation, to withhold our words, to not interrupt, and to simply let someone else have the floor.
The Bible honors a good listener with the description of “wise,” and it’s not just here in Proverbs that speaks to this.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19
Did you catch that? Be quick in ONE THING: listening. That’s it. Be slow in the other two: speaking and becoming angry. Interesting how those last two are paired together. Perhaps, it’s because they are so often linked. Too much talk can often lead to negative emotions. Not always, but often. There is wisdom in restraint. There is wisdom in listening before speaking and listening more than speaking. I want to be wise in this way. I want to be a good listener. Do you?