Proverbs: Life In Details-Liberated Listening

Proverbs: Life In Details-Liberated Listening

Opening Illustration: This Is The Problem With America
Recently KGO talk radio in San Francisco conducted a call-in poll. Ronn Owens invited listeners to express their opinion. Thirty-five percent said yes, 33 percent said no and 32 percent were undecided. One listener, aghast at the large number of undecideds, protested, "It’s this sort of apathy that’s ruining America." 

The only problem with all these responses was that the radio station had never posed any question. The people were listening, but they weren’t attentive. They really weren’t tuned in.

Point:
Well there you have it, people are pretty poor listeners.  You and I probably struggle with listening.  We struggle with staying connected.  How many of you have cell phones in the audience this morning.  Good most of you do.  If you are like me, you are always searching for wi-fi.  You even have that little wi-fi symbol in the upper left hand corner of your phone signaling how connected you are to our church wi-fi.  Maybe you are like me and when that phone drops the signal, you get frustrated.  You see God made us to be connected.  He made us to be connected to Him and to each other.  We stay connected when we use our ears and the processing power of our minds.  Yet, some of us don’t have much of a signal.  This is a problem because it means that we are not truly connected and this lack of connectivity leads to a great deal of personal frustration and irritation.  So, answer me this question…

Are You Tuned In?

Background:
This morning we will only be reading the first 3 verses of chapter seven.  Again we have Solomon speaking to his son and encouraging him to connect through listening.  If you read beyond verse 3, you will see the awesome power of being a good listener.  You will see that Solomon is trying to protect his son from the forbidden woman.  The forbidden woman really symbolizes any sin.  Sin can capture our hearts, minds and imaginations.  It can captivate us just like a beautiful woman…or handsome man for that matter.  Sin can…no always leads to suffering and destruction.  Remember sin promises what it cannot truly give.  It costs more than we have to offer.  Sin turns us all into willing victims.  So, maybe your sin today is not a seductive woman.  Perhaps your sin is a computer screen.  Maybe is that prescription pain medication.  Maybe its the drink that you cannot say no to.  Maybe its the plate of fried chicken.  Can I get an amen?  

Either way, Solomon encourages his son to obey his words.  Friends, you cannot remove sin from your life until you start with the foundation of being a good listener.  Listen to Solomon’s words today.

Proverbs 7:1-3 ESV
1 My son, keep my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you;
2 keep my commandments and live;
    keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.

Follow These Laws of Being A Godly Listener!

I. Listening Is Important
Proverbs 7:1 ESV
1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you…

Why Is It Proper To Pay Attention?

A. Adds To Our Meekness (Humility)

Point:
No one likes a no it all.  Yet we have all run into people who think they have it all figured out.  When we train our ears to listen, we are admitting a central truth that is core to being a human being, we do not know it all and we have very little figured out.  Advice from Godly people helps us understand that we need other’s help.  We are not experts in all fields.  Isn’t it awesome that God has put so many different people with so many varying talents around us.  Each friend is specialized in a different area and if we can humble ourselves to listen, we just may learn something.  Remember, if you cannot listen to the Godly people around you, then you will not be able to listen to God.  After all, God speaks through people, prayer and obviously through Holy Scripture.  The talent for listening is not easily achieved but it is a valuable tool for the Christian.  

B. Subtracts From Potential Mistakes

Point:
So, listening is valuable because it is an expression of humility.  We don’t know everything and the advice of others can be valuable.  Listening also helps is navigating past possible errors or mistakes.  I grew up with an older brother.  Spencer is 4 years older than me.  This means that Spencer dated girls before I did.  He drove before I did.  He went though elementary, junior high, high school and college before I did. Now my brother will tell you that he did not make the best decisions during that time.  Fortunately for me, I was able to see my brother’s mistakes.  I was blessed because I saw his errors and did not replicate them in my own life.  I can remember entering into my teenage years and my brother sat me down and gave me advice on a number of topics.  Friends, why make the same mistakes that someone else has already made for you.  People that are older and possess more experience in life are tremendous resources.  These Godly people can serve as a compass.  They can be our lookouts.  

Illustration: Ronald Reagan’s Advice
In June 1971, just days before Reagan’s son Michael was to get married, the future President of the United States wrote him a letter advising him on his upcoming marriage.  He gave him tips on how to manage conflict and how to share healthy communication.  Ronald Reagan knew that his young son would face challenges and temptations and he wanted his son not to listen to those that were unhappy in their marriages or to chase after other women.  He says, 

It [takes] quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick, and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music.”

HIs final parting advice is probably the most practical of all, 

“P.S. You'll never get in trouble if you say "I love you" at least once a day.”

Point:
No doubt Mr. Reagan was able to give that advice because he had already made errors and figured those things out.  He didn’t want his son to repeat those problems in his life.  Friends, becoming a good listener will not only reveal your humility but it will also prevent potential mistakes that could lead to suffering and pain.

C. Multiplies Our Maturity 

Point:
Have you ever heard the statement “He (She) is wise beyond their years”?  I have many times.  What is being said in that statement?  Essentially, someone is recognizing the wisdom of an individual lacking much life experience.  That is a tremendous compliment.  Most young people are not wise.  They have not had time to make the errors or mistakes of life.  We see this displayed in the ministry of Jesus. Do you remember the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:3-9?

Let me read it to you…

John 8:3-9 ESV
3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 

Notice who leaves the scene first.  That’s right, it is the older men in the group.  Now, these were not even Godly men, but their life experience told them that this was not really a good idea.  

Imagine when a young person accepts the role of the humble student who desires success in his or her life willing to sit at the feet and mentoring of a Godly man or woman.  Do you think that student has a chance to be “wise beyond their years”?  I do.  

Friends, it does not matter how old you are today, if you are unwilling to listen and you feel that you have it all figured out then you are heading down a road of potential destruction.  

Proverbs 8:32-34 (NASB)
"Now therefore, O sons, listen to me, For blessed are they who keep my ways. "Heed instruction and be wise, And do not neglect it. "Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts. 

II. Listening’s Ingredients 
Proverbs 7:2-3 ESV
2 keep my commandments and live;
    keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
3 bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.

Point:
So, you want to be a good listener, but you don’t really know how.  Let me help you.  Now, I am not expert in listening but I can point you in the direction of someone who was a pretty good example.  Follow me to James 1:19-21.  I will read it for you.  

James 1:19-21(NIV)
"19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."

Even James says that a by product of being a good listener is salvation.  After all, salvation comes through hearing the Word.  

James, the brother of Jesus was profoundly influenced by his older brother.  Jesus was the greatest and most perfect example of a humble listener this world has ever seen.  So, what is James telling us?  

Christians Should Learn To…

A. Pause 

Point:
We are pretty quick to speak aren’t we.  When someone says something that we disagree with or that we feel that we are being slighted or hurt, we let those words fly.  We never stop to consider if there is any truth in the statement.  We never stop to hear what is being said.  Many times, we jump to conclusions.  Friend, let me encourage you today that someone WILL say something that will hurt your “little” feelings.  It happened to Jesus.  It has happened to me.  It WILL happen to you.  Follow Jesus’ example, not every word deserves a response.  Not every word that is spoken must be responded to.  I have a saying that I have said many times behind this pulpit and it has saved me from a lot of conflict.  

“I have never had to apologize for something I didn’t say.”

Proverbs 12:18
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

B. Process

Point:
But pastor, you don’t know what that person has said to me.  You have no idea of how they hurt me.  This is true.  Words can be enormously hurtful.  The temptation is to respond or reflect the same hurtful words back at the person who has hurt you.  Friend, let me warn you against the warring.  Nothing positive comes from quarreling with petty people.  Let me give you some helpful advice.  When someone send you a nasty Facebook post, tweet, or email, do this.  Open up a blank page on your computer or pull out a piece of paper.  Respond to their hurtful words.  Write down all those feelings and tell them what you really think.  Give them a piece of your mind.  Now, when you are finished, save the document.  Don’t send it.  Take that piece of paper and put it away, don’t mail it.  Give it two days and come back.  I promise you that you will delete the document and throw away the paper.  The wave of anger and resentment will pass.  

Friend, handle your problems in a constructive and productive way.  Don’t lash out.  Process what is being said.  

Matthew 12:37 (NIV)
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned...

C. Pardon

Point:
Let’s read one more piece of scripture together.  Open your Bibles to Matthew 27:35-44. 

Matthew 27:35-44 ESV
35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Point: 
Notice what is happening here to Jesus.  He has been tried in a fraudulent court. Convicted by a corrupt system.  Beaten and bruised by evil and wicked men.  Stripped naked and robbed after He has nails driven through His extremities.  Then, religious people mock Him.  Even a robber, who has no place to speak, hurls insults at him.  Yet, what does Jesus do?  Luke 23:34 tells us His words saying “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Unbelievable.  Jesus forgive those that hurt him.  

Friend, an important part to listening is learning how to forgive those people who say things that hurt you.  Be a forgiver today. 

Proverbs 29:22 (NIV)
22 An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

III. Listening’s Invitation
Joshua 24:15
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Point:
Brothers and sisters, Solomon is offering his son an invitation.  Yet, his son has a choice doesn’t he?  He can listen and live or choose to disobey and die.  Simple as that.  Life has lots of potholes and pitfalls along the way.  We need to slow down to listen to God’s Word and the wise advice and counsel of Godly people.  

God offers advice on human sexuality and gender orientation and it seems that we are not listening.  

God offers advice on the makeup of the family and it seems that we are not listening.  

God offers advice on obedience and sacrifice and it seems that we are not listening.  

Friends, if we…or our country continues to be ensnared by the adulterous woman, we will eventually come to the end of ourselves.  

God is ringing His bell trying to get our attention and only a few of us are hearing it.  

Illustration: Two Horses 

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.

From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind.

His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home
for him. This alone is amazing.

If nearby and listening, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around
for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller
horse in the field.

Attached to her halter is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know
where she is, so he can follow her.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see how she is always
checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk
to where she is, trusting that she will not lead him astray. When she
returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, she stops occasionally
and looks back, making sure her friend isn’t too far behind to hear the
bell.

Like the owner of these two horses, God does not throw us away just
because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges. He
watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we
are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell
of those who God places in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse,
helping others see. Good friends are like this You don’t always see them,
but you know they are always there.

Please listen for my bell and I’ll listen for yours.


Let The Lord Liberate Your Listening…TODAY!

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