Listen And Learn
Read Proverbs 18:2 (ESV)
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
According to this proverb, is it wise to learn how to think or to tell everyone what you think?
It has never been easier to share our opinions with the world. With social media and cell phones, I can quickly fire off my thoughts and opinions with a wide audience in a matter of seconds. I can spout off my opinion on things I know very little about. I can give my “hot take” even if I don’t fully understand a situation. There is no doubt that we can express our opinion. The question is—is it always wise?
Today’s Proverb gives us a life principle to help us decide. King Solomon calls people who don’t enjoy gaining understanding fools. The only thing they care about is telling everyone what they think. In other words, they aren’t interested in learning, and they think they already know it all. He put it this way in Proverbs 10:8: “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.”
When we go back to the Bible, we see that Scripture values gaining wisdom and understanding, not just for education’s sake, but because true wisdom comes from God. Over and over again, we see this theme in the Bible: the wise do things God’s way but fools think they know better.
In the first chapter of Proverbs we read: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (v. 7). Proverbs also reminds us not to think we are wise on our own: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).
There is also a theme in Scripture that the wise listen and learn more than they talk. We discussed this just a few weeks ago in James 1:9 when James advised that we be “quick to listen but slow to speak.” People who are quick to speak but slow to listen put their foot in their mouth a lot. They may act like they know what they’re talking about, but their mouths expose their folly.
Friends, if we want to be wise, we need to fear the Lord. Instead of relying on our own understanding, we need to gain our understanding from the Lord, the source of wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-6). But as we interact with people out in the world, we should also humble ourselves and be teachable. There is no way that we can ever know it all. So, rather than babbling on and on, loving the sound of our own voice, and spouting off our opinions to anyone who will listen, we would be wise to listen more than we talk. And when we do express our thoughts, we should be confident that what we’re sharing is what we’ve learned from God’s Word.
Lord, I know that Your wisdom is perfect. I want to learn all I can from You. Remind me to listen and learn more than I open my mouth to speak. When I do express my opinions, may they be informed by You and full of Your wisdom and not my own. Amen.