When I was around 9 years old, I had been going to Sunday School all my life. I noticed that curriculums started to repeat, and I wasn’t having it. I had heard this story before several times from previous Sunday School lessons, children’s church and Vacation Bible School. So during the Bible lesson, I began to talk and cut up. Sister Belva, who had known me all my life, wasn’t afraid to call me out or to make an example out of me in front of the other children. She said, “Chris, if you think you know so much, why don’t you get up here and teach this lesson.” Instead of being embarrassed and quieting down, I got up and told the story I had heard so many times before. After class, she told my parents what had happened. Even though she told them I did a good job teaching the lesson, I still got in trouble. I didn’t understand it at the time, but my parents were trying to drive out a prideful spirit that won’t listen when I think I know something. I still struggle with that today, but I’m getting better at catching myself.
My parents introduced me to James 1:19 that says, “My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak” (TPT). They would also say, “God gave you two ears and one mouth. You should listen twice as much as you speak.” I always thought that was impossible since I was such a talker, but it’s true. If you can’t listen, how can you learn? If you can’t listen, how can you empathize? Listening is a skill required to follow Jesus closely. He said, “My sheep hear my voice (John 10:27),” but how can you hear it if you’re never quiet. The psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).” When we are quiet and still, we can listen, learn and know. It’s time that we ask ourselves when is the last time we just sat and listened to God or others. I can assure you that it’s probably been too long. I’ve learned that when I sit and listen, God will often give me instructions I’ve been needing.
Proverbs 10:8 says, “The heart of the wise will easily accept instruction. But those who do all the talking are too busy to listen and learn. They’ll just keep stumbling ahead into the mess they created” (TPT). Do you consider yourself a talker or a listener? If it’s a talker, how easily do you accept instruction? Chances are it’s a hard thing for you to do. It could be pride causing it or fear or something else. Dig down deep to find out why you have difficulty listening and learning. God is always speaking to you, but you can’t hear it if you’re too busy talking. He also places people in our lives to guide us along the paths He is trying to take us down, but we will miss the instructions if we’re too busy trying to talk over them. If you want to be wise and grow in your faith, learn to listen and accept instruction. It’s time we stopped stumbling from one mess to another and took the time to hear what God is saying. He knows where all the pitfalls in our path are. So focus on listening for a change and you just might graduate from the school of hard knocks.