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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More than endless prattle

If you have ever been around someone who just "talks to hear themselves talk", you know how foolish they can sound on occasion.  They just ramble on and on as though all the world was listening.  At times, they might actually have something to say, but the "world" is so tired of listening to their pointless talk that even if they have some nugget of purposeful information in there somewhere, no one is really paying that close attention!  This might be why scripture reminds us of the way we use our words - not in excess, not hastily, not in idle talk.  When we have a tendency to just make "conversation" for the sake of "passing the time", we don't really have much to share which will really lend to the building of relationship or receiving of instruction.  When I want to build relationship, I usually am very focused on learning certain things about the other individual.  I may be drawn to them because I see they possess a skill set I don't - such as when I might want to learn to use a particular software on the computer.  This might start a rather "instructional" or "professional" relationship, but it will lack depth if that is all we ever talk about.  In time, I may ask about their children, what they have planned for vacation this year, and the like.  This will take me a step closer to really getting to know a little about the individual.  Yet, deep down, I still don't know much about them.  It isn't until I spend time with them, really getting to know their movements, understanding their expressions, grasping the meaning of their sighs, and seeing clearly the pain or joy in their eyes that I come to know them well. Notice I didn't really focus on hearing the stories they tell.  These are important, but we really get to know another by studying them a little - not just listening to words they share. We need both in order to really come into a place of intimate relationship with each other, but to simply put words out there and then expect people will get to know us might just be a little too presumptuous of us.  In time, our words might actually drive us away from relationship - not toward it!

The wise in heart will receive commandments, but a prating fool will fall. (Proverbs 10:8 MEV)

The wise in heart will receive commandments - they receive his teaching. The words God speaks are not those of a prating fool.  They aren't spoken to fill pages in a book, or to fill the air with sound.  They are directive, instructional, and purposeful.  They are faith-filled, challenging, and sometimes even exasperating.  Yep, sometimes his words are kind of "rough".  I am using this term in the sense of how a botanist might use it - to describe the roughness of the surface of the leaf.  Sometimes God's words are a little "rough" to take - they seem to almost "prick us" with their sharpness.  Well, I cannot think of a more faithful companion to speak those type of words into our lives, can you? The most "telling" truths he can speak are those which make us sit up and take notice of how it is we are living!

A prating fool will fall - become nothing because he is too busy talking to take time to listen!  This is the danger of using words as though they were a "cheap commodity" - we lessen the value of the words we hear because we are so busy talking over them that we cannot hear them at all!  To receive, we need to listen. To listen, we need to be quiet.  To be quiet, we need to be comfortable enough to not need to be the center of attention!  God challenges those who are constantly chattering on and on with this word of warning - there is a fall in your path if you continue on in the senseless chattering of empty words.  Why is that? We don't have the depth of relationship with him or others to sustain us in the difficult times of life!

Herein is the balance we must find in life.  We have to be open enough to develop solid relationships, but also to have balance in what it is we share.  I received a call the other night from an old acquaintance.  The call was longer than most, but what was shared just kind of made me a little uncomfortable. You see, I listened a lot, but the caller just kept rambling on and on about this or that.  What the caller failed to recognize was this idea of "knowing" who they were actually talking to.  In fact, the caller called back shortly after we disconnected when they made a sudden realization of exactly "who" they were talking to!  It dawned on the caller who it was they had called and then it sort of made them a little embarrassed about what they had gone on and on about. I am not calling this individual a fool, but here me out - when we begin talking before we consider the audience, understand the relationship we have with them, and realize the value in what it is we are sharing, there is quite a different conversation which occurs.

This is most true in our relationship with God himself.  We need to know our audience.  He isn't "unsettled" by our endless chatting with him, but he does look for us to get to purposeful conversation with him at some point.  Then we need to understand the relationship we have with him.  He isn't there to be our "go to" when times are bad and then ignored when all is going well.  He wants to be part of our ups AND downs.  Nothing is more disheartening to him than to be taken for granted when the things in life seem to be going our way and then to be the center of our attention when we find ourselves in need.  He wants us to share things of our heart with him - not just the superficial stuff.  There is a depth he wants us to cultivate in relationship with him, but without honest sharing, we will never get to this point.  We need to trust him to take what we share and then use it to "better" us in every sense of the word.  Just sayin!