Have you ever been accused of being a little too "chatty" - always talking away, not really intent on any particular subject, just talking non-stop? I have one child who is quiet, content to sit for long periods without so much as a word, while another is just the opposite. This isn't unusual, as most of us have differences in how it is we "interact" with others. In fact, if you consider your immediate family, you will find there are those who are reserved, others outgoing. It is kind of a dangerous position to find oneself in, though, when we are a little "too chatty". Why? There are times when we don't always consider the words we use - because we aren't quiet long enough to consider the way we say them, the content we use in saying them, and how it is another may receive them. The "chatty" run into problems because they are too chatty - the "quiet" run into their share of problems because no one really knows what they are thinking or what their true feelings are about a situation. The use of "good sense" in communicating with one another is important - because it keeps us from running over the feelings of another, and it also brings us to a place of consideration of the uniqueness of each individual. I have said it before, but it bears saying again: Words matter just as much as the ones which remain unspoken!
If you have good sense, you will listen and obey; if all you do is talk, you will destroy yourself. You will be safe, if you always do right, but you will get caught, if you are dishonest. Deceit causes trouble, and foolish talk will bring you to ruin. The words of good people are a source of life, but evil hides behind the words of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:8-11 CEV)
The dangerous part about being "too chatty" is our tendency to even "talk over" God when he is trying to speak to us! If we cannot get quiet long enough to hear from him, we stand the chance of charging ahead full-speed into things God doesn't desire for us. We get into the middle of muddles and find ourselves struggling with things we shouldn't have had to struggle with in the first place. The warning is quite clear: If all you do is talk, you will destroy yourself. Talk not only impedes listening - it is "cheap". It doesn't cost us anything until someone "calls us" on what it is we have said. I have found myself in many a "prove it to me" situation simply because I said something without thinking and then have to prove I meant it! Awkward! We need a balance between what we say and how well we are listening to what else is being said, or not said, around us.
If we have good sense, we will listen and obey. This gives us a hint into a truth we might just want to consider - obedience isn't found in our activity, but in our attentiveness! We often find ourselves in places of compromise because we were too busy with something else to actually pay attention to what we were doing. We often think victory over sin in our lives is in doing the right things - "doing" is best when it is preceded by "listening"! Listening doesn't happen by accident - it is purposeful and it takes a lot of focus. Focus is intentional and it is also "directional". You much choose your focus carefully - otherwise you find yourself listening to the wrong stuff! Even worse, the one you may be listening to could just be yourself! If you haven't figured it out by now - your "self" is kind if fickle!
Ernest Hemingway once said, "When people talks, listen completely." There is something to this idea of "listening completely". "Complete" suggests being undivided in your attention. If you have a tendency to divide your attention once in a while, you know how easily you can actually miss "content" in a discussion! You come "back into the conversation" with a little bit of this and that, but you will have missed a good deal of the "context" of the conversation. If you have ever been caught "distracted" in conversation, you know how embarrassing that can be! You actually look a little dumbfounded when you are expected to give an answer! Others might call this "having egg on one's face". Either way, not where we want to find ourselves - especially when it is God who has been speaking and we have only been half-heartedly paying attention!
Proverbs is rich in advice about our ears and our tongue. Listening and speaking go hand-in-hand. They both get us into so much trouble - but equally as important - they both have the potential to give us the wisdom to act appropriately! You have probably heard the expression: God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. This is based on something Zino of Citium, a Greek philosopher, once said. There is much truth in this wisdom, though. It may not be biblically based, but I think God may just approve the wisdom in these words! So, today as we set out to explore our world, let us keep in mind the wisdom of "listening" first, speaking second, and maybe we just might learn something new from each other today! Just listening!