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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Confessions of Someone Who Doesn't Want to Be a Fool

Proverbs 18:2 (ESV) 2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

I am a talker. I often don't let others finish their sentences. This must make me a poor listener as well. I am so eager to tell others that I am right or that I know or that I have already thought of that, that I don't let others get a word in edgewise.

The question is: Does this make me a fool?

I believe I have acted like a fool. I believe I could be a fool if I continue but accepting this Proverb with understanding disqualifies me from remaining on that path.

But I also believe that a fool is someone who could change what he is but continues doing what he has always been doing. Then, the fool takes the consequences of his actions and either blames them on the actions of others or explains them away. The fool says that he did the right thing but unforseen circumstances thwarted his actions. The fool says that he is the only one doing what is right. The fool will not relent when it comes to an understanding which is not his own. He insists that he is right and no one can teach him otherwise.

 I must not simply seek after understanding. I must take pleasure in it. This is more than making myself aware that understanding exists. It means I must grasp it as something extremely valuable and rejoice because it has been given to me.

Understanding is more than knowing the facts. It is putting it altogether. It is the ability to apply what has been learned.

Don't you think it is strange that I am put out with someone that won't listen to me? Why is it that I criticize those who have my characteristics? Maybe it really does take one to know one!

So, I must be careful in rushing to show others what I know. I must listen to others first. I must consider their understanding. I may still reject it. It may not be biblical, godly, ethical, moral or legal. There are good reasons to reject some understainding but wanting things to be as I understand them alone is not a sufficient reason.

I have learned that those who lead conferences often think their way is the way that all people should act. They often chastise the attendees for not doing what they have done. Yet, they often do not grasp any understanding that is not their own. I, on the other hand, knowing this, often reject everything that has been said. Which of us is acting foolishly?

So, I open my ears to those who speak. I promise to listen and seek to understand what they are saying. Instead of saying what I know, I ask questions to see if I understand what others are saying.  I discern whether or not it is something I should understand through prayer and checking it against the word of God. I apply what is revealed as understanding.

Yes, I give my own understanding too but that is not done without regarding the understanding of others.

I just say a bumper sticker that said "coexist." Yesterday I saw one that said "tolerance." Various religious symbols made up the letters of each of these words. However, I don't think that the people who have put these stickers on their cars will actually practice what they are preaching. You see, they have been a little too eager to express their own opinion.

Yes, I know I tell others of the love of Jesus and how they should give their hearts to Him. I know that I tell others that the Bible is the word of God and it should be read, memorized, meditated on, prayed and applied in our daily living. I don't have much wiggle room on either of these. But should I try to overwhelm people with what I know and believe? Does my understanding of Jesus and the word of God demand that I listen?

Maybe the whole difference is in listening.

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