The older I get, the more I desire wisdom.
I know that God says, “wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4.7) I don’t want to be a fool in this world because the life of a fool is always destructive. As Henry David Thoreau put so eloquently, “most men live lives of quiet desperation” and I believe that one of the reasons this happens is because so many settle for foolishness, rather than pursuing wisdom. God “desires truth in inner parts; He teaches me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51.6 NIV) So much of spiritual growth is about putting away childish foolishness.
I also don’t want to relate to others as a fool. I look around and foolishness abounds when it comes to the way people respond to each other. Children suffer at the hands of a bully. Friendships are destroyed because of gossip and disloyalty. Neighbours become enemies over a property line. Work colleagues climb the corporate ladder, at the expense of others’ well-being. The political world is flushed with foolishness, the media spews it, athletes flaunt it, marriages fall apart because of it and wars break out because power festers from the strongly innate root of foolishness.
My desire is to move towards others…
a) with ears that listen to what is said and what is not said
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters; You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry. James 1.19 NLT
b) with wise, well thought-through words that build up, not tear down.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4.29 NIV
c) with love
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13. 34-35 ESV
Don’t get me wrong – I have often failed in this area but I am very committed to authentic, meaningful communication because years ago, I truly took to heart what the scriptures say – “so far as it depends on you, live at peace with all people.” (Romans 12.18) Having peaceful relationships with others takes wisdom, prayer, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, intentionality and strong communication skills.
For the next five days, I am going to focus on some characteristics of a fool as they are manifested in communication. These tendencies come from issues of the heart that need to be addressed but they are manifested in specific behaviors.
#1. While communicating with others, fools express their opinions as fact – they are wise in their own eyes.
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. Proverbs 18.2 NIV
The way of a fool seems right him, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12.15 NIV
Think of those conversations you’ve had when you just know that the other person is already thinking of his/her next sentence, rather than listening to what you are saying. You quickly catch on that this person is committed to making a point, not communicating. This makes for a one-way lecture, not a two-way conversation. Scripture says that “a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning, his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness – and the fool multiplies words. Ecclesiastes 10.12-14
Strong words, right? We can all think of a time when we’ve been bowled over with someone’s fancy talk and articulate tongue – and this person isn’t just waxing eloquence in the used car parking lot. You can find these fools everywhere – they too have two ears and one mouth but they talk far more than they listen. They want to be heard, they assume they are right and the goal is to talk, not converse.