Tuesday, November 15, 2011
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When I was in high school, I was a part of Youth For Christ's very active Bible Quiz program. Now, it was a long time ago, but I still remember a lot that I learned in studying books of the Bible in this highly competitive atmosphere.
There was a lot of intense excitement when we would get together. Sometimes, believe it or not, thousands of people would be there for the competition as the championship quiz teams would be pitted against each other, seated on chairs that used, well what was then sophisticated equipment, and it registered who got off the chair first, and then they had the first opportunity to answer the question. If they jumped during the question, which I often did, that was the best way to make sure you got the opportunity, you had to finish the question correctly and then give the answer.
So here is the Quiz Master asking, jump as soon as you think you can finish this question. Many times we were so high-strung that we'd jump too soon...ridiculously soon. For example we'd be quizzing on the whole Gospel of John, and the Quiz Master would say, "Wh..." And suddenly you'd see three people on their feet, and he'd call, "Number one." Oh, you almost always lost that question, "Wh..." Who could figure that out? Of course, you always lose when you jump too soon.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Jumping Before You've Heard It All."
Well, our word for today from the Word of God comes from Proverbs 18:13 - the great wisdom of Solomon. He says, "He who answers before listening..." Okay, sounds like that old Bible quiz doesn't it? "He who answers before listening, that is his folly; that is his shame." Well, the New Testament version of that might be James 1:19, which says this: "Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak." Now we have just slightly re-written that one. We're quick to speak and slow to listen. And notice the listening comes before the speaking.
Solomon tells us that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. It's our folly! It's foolish! It's shameful if we speak before we listen. See, we hear the beginning of what someone is trying to tell us and we assume we know the rest. And like the old Bible quizzers, we jump with our reply. It happens in our marriage conversations. It happens between parents and children. We anticipate the rest and we don't understand each other as a result. Biblically wise people don't just listen to the sentence; they listen to the whole paragraph. They don't respond to the opening line. Oh, they may listen to the whole page. When you jump too soon, you usually end up misunderstanding. You react to the symptom, not the problem.
See, the person doesn't pay attention to what you're saying because you didn't pay attention to them. Conflict erupts, walls go up. If you played back the tape of you today, would we often hear you being quick to speak? If so, you might be inflicting hurt, frustration, misunderstanding and causing people to just shut down and not even want to tell you anymore.
How are you perceived by your mate, your children, your parents, your friends when it comes to listening? Maybe someone has basically stopped trying. But tell them you want another chance. It takes patience; it takes self-control to listen; not just to a person's words, but to their heart. It is, according to the Word of God, foolish not to listen before you speak.
Now, we're told that part of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is patience and self-control. You know, that's what it takes to listen before you speak. So, "Dear Lord, give me patience. Give me self-control. Teach me, Lord, to listen."
Take it from an old Bible quizzer who sometimes couldn't wait, "When you jump too soon, you usually get it wrong."