When I finish reading Twitter, listening to the news or receive any information through a biased filter I am confused, judgmental or despairing. This is a complex time. People are writing op-eds and lengthy social media posts and as I read them, I feel convicted, encouraged, challenged and confused all within minutes.
What are we to do? What are we to say? What do we tell our children?
While facing global pandemics and acknowledging systemic inequality may be new to me, it’s not to God. He’s seen hurt and hard wash over our planet many times over. When I want marching orders from Him, I usually turn to Proverbs. Just tell me what to do, Lord!
Here’s what I am learning:
Six Proverbs to Guide Our Listening
1. Proverbs 18:13 — If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
This season I need to take time to learn. It’s not a time for trying to be right or defensive, but for growth. I am working hard to avoid conversations based on opinions and listen instead for someone’s experiences and our history.
2. Proverbs 11:2 — When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
If we walk out of this season wiser, the enemy loses. How can I grow in wisdom? Through humility, which usually starts with confession. I am trying to recognize my sin faster, watch how fear drives my behavior, hold my tongue, and admit when I am prideful. That full-time job is humbling me to the extent I don’t have time to judge.
3. Proverbs 10:12 — Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
Does what I am writing in an email or a social media post sound loving? Are my conversations loving? Is my attitude or dinner conversation loving? This must be chief, because God made it clear: love is how they will know we are His kids.
4. Proverbs 15:1 — A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
“I am sorry. I hear you. I can’t imagine. I didn’t know.“
I am finding soft answers open hearts and doors for real exchange. When I am protective and defensive, no matter the volume, understanding is shut down and worse yet, so is relationship.
5. Proverbs 18:2 — A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
I don’t need to be heard and I don’t need to be right. That’s a relief, because there is a lot of pressure that comes with needing to be seen as right. It’s pretty liberating to listen instead of talk, and admit ignorance instead of defending behavior.
6. Proverbs 26:11 — Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
When we know better, we can do better. May I ask better questions going forward and live differently as a result of the stirring happening in me.
That vague feeling we have is grief. We need to grieve our losses this season. Listening paves the path that leads us to hope. I want to be used by God to advance His kingdom and the wisdom of Proverbs lights the way.