Ears to Hear

“A wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 NIV

“Hearing God is ultimately a matter of a listening heart.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “ears to hear.”

When I was a young teen and talking more than I should about things of which I knew too little, my Dad gave me some practical advice – not all that appreciated then. “Allen, do you know why God gave you two ears and one mouth? He meant for you to listen twice as much as you speak!” Hear you loud and clear! I am not convinced that is theologically provable, but Dad made his point. He at least made me stop and occasionally think before talking so much, and I remember his advice still today. I will leave others to judge whether I follow his advice sufficiently.

First of all, most of us are better talkers than we are listeners; that is to our detriment, really. Listening takes a lot more humility, skill, and attentiveness than talking. You learn a lot more when your ears are open rather than your mouth.  Additionally, many of us are not very good at listening to things we would rather not hear. That fact alone filters out a lot to which we should have paid attention.

The Bible says, “Ears to hear and eyes to see – both are gifts from the Lord.” Proverbs 20-12 NLT. Hearing is a physical ability; listening is ultimately a matter of the heart. Jesus had strong words to say about people who did not want to listen, “For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes – so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and be healed.” Matthew 13:14-16 NLT. God can open blind eyes but He will not open your closed eyes. God can restore hearing to deaf ears, but not to those folk with hardened hearts.

The Bible says, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” Proverbs 12:15 NIV. A wise man listens to advice! For your own good, you probably ought to be willing to listen more readily than many of us are usually prone to do. I have wondered if part of the problem is all the opinions volunteered without our request that leave us a bit reticent about hearing any and everyone’s advice without asking for it.

Opinions; everyone has one. Advice, choose that carefully. I would distinguish opinions as information volunteered that is left to the hearer’s option. No explanation or expectation of response is required. Whereas, an opinion might be upgraded to advice, if that opinion is requested in the context of a relationship with some history of trusted, helpful advice. Advice is just that, advice, not instruction or direction for which you are held accountable for your response to anyone other than God.

On numerous occasions, the Bible says, “Let him that has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says . .” In my observation it seems that “ears to hear” is related to a listening heart in a person who desires to be wise and recognizes they don’t yet know everything there is to know. Maybe the more you learn to listen with your heart to others, you may just find an increasing sensitivity to recognize and value the still small voice of God who speaks within your heart.

My prayer for you today is that you nurture a heart to learn and make time to listen.