He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.

We all knew the kid in school who started spouting off answers or asking questions before the teacher finished talking. The rest of the class would silently roll their eyes. After all, if they would just have enough self-control to wait until the teacher finished, they could have all the information they needed. The problem is, even as adults, too many of us act like the kid in the class who just wants to have the answer first. We aren’t worried about getting the facts straight or hearing all the instructions, we just want everyone to know that we know the right answer.

This proverb aptly echoes the heart of James 1:19-20. It all starts with hearing—truly listening. Tensions are high all around us. It feels as if the fuse is constantly lit and things could explode at any moment. People are short on patience and high on anger—much of it justified. However, oftentimes we are loud and mad simply to be loud and mad. We want to be the first and loudest voice. We are more concerned about being right than kind. But nothing gets accomplished if we don’t stop talking and listen to people. Before we publish statements, give public opinions, or fuel the rumor mill, we have to listen to people. We have to hear their stories. We need to engage with different sources. Most importantly, the loudest voice in our lives has to be the Holy Spirit. If we aren’t careful, our words and actions will start to look less like the person of Jesus and more like whatever other voices we are listening to.

Speaking before we know what we are saying is foolishness. It is literally the opposite of wisdom. Before we become like the kid shouting out answers to a question we haven’t even heard yet, we need to pause and hear with open ears. We need to be less worried about making our opinions known and being right, and more worried about hearing the cares and concerns of others.

• Can you recall a recent time when you have been too hasty in speaking or form an opinion about something? A moment when you didn’t take the time to hear from others?

• Where might the Lord be prompting you to speak less and listen more? An area where you need to learn more and gather more information?

• Ask the Lord to give you holy restraint in your speech. Ask Him for humility and patience to hear and learn.