Usually the question “Are you talking to me?” is confrontational, but in asking it this morning I mean it. Like I have done the past several years, I am again reading the book of Proverbs during the month of January. There are 31 days in January and 31 chapters in the book, so I read a chapter a day. The last verse in yesterday’s chapter and two verses in the first 13 verses of today’s chapter got my attention.
The last verse yesterday, 17:28, is a verse I have always liked and often quoted: “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” When I read this I thought of all the people I know who could benefit from it if they would just listen to it.
When I read 18:2 this morning, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions,” I remembered the last verse from yesterday and then thought about the current state of political discussion on TV, Facebook, and in Washington. I said to myself: “many of those people could certainly benefit if they would take this verse to heart!”
Eleven verses later I came to “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame.” That reminded me of what I had read a little earlier so I went back and read verse 2 again. I was right, the two verses relate. Then I remembered what I had read yesterday, went back to 17:28, and thought “these three all relate.” I looked the verses up in a couple of other translations and what I thought was confirmed. The GNB rendering of Proverbs 18:13 is especially strong: “Listen before you answer. If you don’t, you are being stupid and insulting.”
I was thinking about all the back and forth I read and hear from pundits, politicians, Facebook posts, and other discussions and how great it would be if those people would read and put into practice these three verses from Proverbs.
Then I had an epiphany. The reason I read the book of Proverbs each January is to learn and put into practice its wisdom. I’m not reading Proverbs to be reminded of the foolishness and folly of others, I’m reading this book of wisdom to have my own shortcomings pointed out and to be instructed in how to do better.
And so I asked the question, “Are you talking to me?” Perhaps I should listen more and more carefully as well as talk less.
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Always have and always will enjoy your writings and teaching. I think you know that I admired Chuck Smith as my all time favorite teacher. I still to this day go to his archive’s library and listen to his teaching, but I assure you that I have always considered you right up there with him. Our men’s bible study is entitled the wisdom of Solomon. We are covering Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. I enjoyed proverbs a lot, but I find Ecclesiastes somewhat depressing. Wish you were there to share some insight. Miss you, Scott
Its so easy to point to “others” as suggest they need to hear this or that. Then, eventually, I hear the Lord say “not others Joe, you”. Humbled again. Thanks for reminder. I love you.
I’ve been pondering what to study next in our small group. I think a stroll through Proverbs would be quite refreshing. Thanks for the post and inspiration.
I constantly “finish” other’s sentences and so my name/pic should really be next to this in the bible…hahaha. No this is actually something I need so much work in and this being the New Year and all a good starting point, thank you for your article and reminder. May God’s blessings be on you all!
Love that Bob. So often even when listening to sermons we often think if only _____ was here to hear that. Instead of, “are you talking to me”?
Thanks for sharing!
Often when I am listening to others, I am trying to formulate an answer to what they are saying and don’t benefit from a full conversation. Thank you for the reminder to be a better listener. You should gather all your blogs into a book. I love you