Listen and Learn

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”  Proverbs 1:5 NIV

Listening is a requisite entrance to learning, and learning is a life-long practice.

My thoughts and comments today advise, “listen and learn.”

I am blessed with a patient wife. Her steadfast love and enduring patience toward me may be the major contributing factor to our celebrating our fiftieth anniversary later this week. Her challenge seems to be the brief but inevitable gap between the first words she speaks and the first words to which I listen. She must grow weary of repeating herself. My problem is not a hearing disability; the likely difficulty is my listening deficiency. My guess is that I am not the only one so afflicted. “Can I hear an amen?”

Why do people find something as simple as listening such a challenge? Too many conversations could be described as, “Two people more interested in talking than either is in listening.” As a young boy, I remember my father asking, “Allen, do you know why God gave you two ears but only one mouth?” I momentarily pondered his words to pose an answer, only then realizing his question was rhetorical. “It’s so you will learn to listen twice as much as you talk.” I probably am still learning that application.

Solomon offered simple, practical counsel; “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance for understanding . . the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Read Proverbs 1:1-7 NIV. The principle is equally applicable naturally and spiritually, but his focus is on attentiveness to matters of spiritual discipline and development: “. . for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and direction to the young . .” Verse 2-4 NIV. Any and all of those could be invaluable to your everyday life.

According to Solomon, listening is the practice of the wise and increased learning is their reward. Two things are true: (1) Listening is a requisite entrance to learning, and (2) Learning is a life-long practice. If you listen to the wise, you will learn; if you learn from the wise, you will become wiser. “For whoever finds [wisdom] finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:33-35 NIV. I love this verse, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power and a man of knowledge increases strength.” Proverbs 24:3-5 NIV. I want your life and mine to be “filled with rare and beautiful treasures” of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and strength.

When you aren’t listening, you aren’t learning; when you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing; when you aren’t growing, you aren’t wise. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 NIV.

My prayer for you this day is that you listen for God in your heart and learn His wisdom.