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February 26, 2016

Text: “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:5-7

In the movie My Fair Lady Alfred P. Doolittle (Eliza’s father) says to Professor Henry Higgins, “Governor, I’m waiting to hear you, I’m willing to hear you, I’m wanting to hear you!”  There is more wisdom to this than wit! The world is in great need of good listeners. Are you a good listener?  For instance, my wife can sit with wrapt attention before the tv set. When I say something to her she continues to stare blankly at the tv until I repeat myself louder. No attention to me; selective hearing! Give me  attentive hearers like Peter was to have at the household of Cornelius. The centurion told the apostle: “…Now therefore we are all  here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” Acts 10:33b  Just the audience I would like to preach to!

Be prudent in hearing! Listening is a critical skill. It is to be used in tandem with the mind.  What is heard is to be evaluated for truth. We must exercise judgment in testing every word that is transmitted through our ears.  Let’s call this  activity “sifting”. (Sight is also a critical skill and must be evaluated too.) Accepting what we see and hear without questioning and evaluating is a sure formula to trouble somewhere down the road. Do not be gullible or unthinking.  The apostle Paul wrote: “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” I Thessalonians 5:20-21  Jesus had said before this, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and  Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6 Jesus defined this leaven in the same chapter verse 12: “… the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducess.”  

Be an active hearer, not a passive one. Pay attention to the speaker and to what he is saying. Keep your interest in the subject alive, don’t let your attention drift. Focus and re-focus; expand your attention span. Don’t be like Eutychus in the 20th chapter of Acts. Paul was longwinded in his preaching and Eutychus, perched in an open window, went to sleep and out of the third story window and was “taken up dead”. v. 9b Fortunately, Paul restored his life miraculously. So, as James wrote: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear…” James 1:19a

Be somewhat dubious about the character of the one to whom you are listening or what you are reading.  Do your “insides” give you a warning about the truthfulness of what someone is saying? Listen to that “little bell” in your brain that tells you there is “something rotten in the state of Denmark”. Be wary when someone seems insincere. Have the mindset of the old adage. “I’m from Missouri; show me!”  “Do not take heart to all the things that people say…” Ecclesiastes 7:21a 

Listen and be a seeker of how God wants you to live. Pay no attention to untrustworthy people who tell you how you should live. Look at their lives and see if what they recommend has caused them wreckage and ruin. Determine to follow the path that God and his Son have marked out for the righteous. “‘Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls…”‘ Jeremiah 6:16  “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide, and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those that enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life,  and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:13-1

The great American essayist Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak, and another to hear.”



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