Posts Tagged ‘having a listening ear’

I wonder if you can remember a time when, like me, you have spoken in haste and rebuked someone harshly. Sometime we say things in the heat of the moment, don’t we, that we wish could take back – but it’s too late. Our words have done their work and pulled someone down instead of building him or her up. How much better it would be if we stopped and thought first before opening our mouths or typing that angry email or sending that curt text!

This week as I prepared to speak on a rather challenging passage of Scripture about confronting someone who has sinned against us (Matthew 18:15-20), I came across Proverbs 25:11-12 and was immediately captivated:

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold

is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.

We all need those wise, careful rebukes at times, don’t we? None of us is perfect. But it’s at such moments that my pride often kicks in and I go into defence mode, trotting out all my excuses as to why I did what I did or said what I said. Instead, we are called to have a ‘listening ear’ when someone cares enough to confront us. Otherwise, we might miss those wise words of rebuke or challenge from God that could be life-changing.

I well remember several occasions over the years when someone rebuked me in a wise and godly way – and I actually managed to listen and take heed. I knew these people had my best interests at heart. And to this day, I remember their rebukes with gratitude and not with any bitterness, because these people took a risk and spoke truth into my life. Their words were indeed ‘aptly spoken’, as Proverbs puts it – true ‘earrings of gold’ that I treasure even more than my favourite pieces of gold jewellery.

In writing my recently completed first non-fiction book, I had to come to grips with this issue all over again. You see, this book is called Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey and is an account of my relationship with my special spiritual friend and mentor, Joy, over the past fifteen years. In that time, there were of course occasions when I had difficulties with other people – and Joy helped me work through these. But now I had to decide which of these, if any, to include in my book. If I left them all out, I would be writing dishonestly. And I might also miss an opportunity to help someone going through a similar situation. But if I included them, people might be hurt. So I tried to walk carefully with God as I wrote, checking my motives and looking for ways to polish those ‘apples of gold’ I felt it necessary to include.

But how about you? Could the words of rebuke you need to speak or write at times be described as precious gold earrings or ornaments? And are you developing that listening ear to hear and value the wise words of another who might seek to help you grow in God?

I know I’m still on this journey, but I hope I am learning how better to pass on those golden words, as well as develop that listening ear. And I hope and pray that’s your heart too.

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