Christian devotions in the Daily-Message

Christian devotions in the Daily-Message

Speaking before you think

“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.”

Proverbs 18:13
 

We have probably all experienced this, that we hear a keyword and immediately react to it. But, sometimes we speak over someone's head because that which was heard was actually not what was meant at all. To get out of such an uncomfortable situation, we then quickly add: “I merely wanted to say...”!? To give opinions or remarks without listening or being asked to do so, is something which gives off a trigger-reaction and puts us in a bad light. Proverbs 17:28 springs to mind “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Many conclusions on our part, are based on our own presumptions or wishful thinking, but not always on fact. We are exhorted in James 1:19 to hear well (namely swiftly) and speak sensibly (namely slowly). That is why we have two ears, but only one mouth – even our anatomy teaches us many things. Whoever constantly and prematurely speaks (and probably also likes to hear himself speak) is most probably sometimes a lost cause (Proverbs 29:20). We should also consider this in our prayers. In Ecclesiastes 5:2 (Good News) we read: “Think before you speak, and don't make any rash promises to God. He is in heaven and you are on earth, so don't say any more than you have to.” In like manner as we should pay attention how we listen and what we say and with whom we are dealing with and for what purpose, we should also approach God. If we utter too many (and wrong) words in-between ourselves, and it is criticized in the Bible, why do we think that it can function in this manner with God Himself? God is in Heaven and we are not (yet) – that also means that God knows and understands us better than we ourselves do, and therefore many words (as if we need to explain something and what we mean to God) don't make our prayers better.

In Matthew 6:7-8 we read: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” Many backgrounds and connections (why someone is the way he is, or did what he did) we are unaware of. We can therefore save ourselves a lot of foolishness and embarrassment (“folly and shame”) when we listen first and not superficially judge the person before us, prior to answering. If you are unable to give an immediate answer, the matter should perhaps be placed on hold, in the interim. Before causing irreparable damage which cannot be undone quickly, it is best to first listen without speaking. In asking engaging, sensible questions, it is also possible to obtain some valuable information, in order to give the person a sensible answer. We should not accept as fact, that which we only know from hearsay. To err is indeed human! Paul already wrote on this topic in Timothy: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:19). Certainly this does not only apply to the elderly (although especially to them) but to us all who daily deal with people who we don't really know or immediately understand. And this explicitly also applies in doctrinal matters – towards fellow Christians – over which we should not argue – Romans 14:1 “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Whomever is able to express himself better than others, has not necessarily understood the truth – good listening is more important than good speaking because it is the prerequisite thereto.

(Translated by Linda Gates)

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