Read Proverbs 18:13
13 Answering before listening
is both stupid and rude. (THE MESSAGE)
There is not much doubt that we live in a time when respectful dialogue is threatened. Angry people vent their anger, usually at what is regarded as a safe, digital distance. We have our fixed opinions, our pet hates, our ideological enemies and we let fly at them.
Even in more ‘normal’ situations, we find it hard to listen to what others are saying; we find it hard to understand just what it is they believe. So often we hit out at others’ beliefs without first grasping the nature and the nuances of those beliefs.
Our text today reminds us that speaking without listening won’t help fruitful dialogue or respectful relationships. How can we meaningfully respond to someone if we haven’t first heard what they are saying? If we don’t listen, we may just be reacting to what we assume they are saying. And our assumptions might be mistaken.
We often don’t listen because it is hard work. Much easier to just spout our opinions. Much easier to jump to conclusions. But the hard work can pay off. We may end up having a deeper relationship with others, we may end up enriched by their views or challenged in our own beliefs.
The path to civility is via open ears and closed mouths.