There is a tremendous difference between listening and hearing. We can hear without listening but cannot listen without hearing. Our ears have become accustomed to being bombarded by so many loud noises that we often hear things without listening to what is actually going on or being said. It is reminiscent of the old adage that there is something “going in one ear and out the other” without being noticed. This can create problems for us.
“He who answers without listening - that is his folly and shame,” is a wise admonishment. All too often when we are talking with one another we are more interested in what we are thinking about than what the other person is saying to us. Unless we place a high value on what they are saying, we are apt to misunderstand what that person is saying to us or needing from us.
There are those who think a quick answer is a sign of intellect, knowledge or wisdom. Actually, it may be none of them. In fact, this proverb insists that to give an answer to someone without listening is in fact the sign of a foolish person and there is a strong suggestion in this proverb that the person who responds without careful thought is foolish and will ultimately bring shame on him or herself.
But there is even a more subtle hint here that is well worth thinking about. A person who carefully and thoughtfully listens to another person shows that person respect. It is as if we are saying, “You are as important to me as you are to God. I must listen to you as He would!”
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to honor and respect others who come to us in times of need and listen to them willingly. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Proverbs 18:13 To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.