“God gave you two ears so you can hear twice as much as you speak.”
My dad didn’t make that up, but he said it so much (to me) that he might as well have. He was trying to teach a headstrong boy to shut up long enough to be taught something.
I would talk a lot as a child and theorize all kinds of crazy things and while my dad was mostly content to let me work through things, there were moments when he needed to instruct me.
Those were hard moments—on me, at least! He would have to remind me there was a time to listen and a time to speak. And when he was trying to teach me something, it was NOT a moment for me to speak.
He was trying to teach me the wisdom of being careful with words and receive instruction when needed. My dad was basically teaching me the essence of Proverbs 13:3.
Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.Proverbs 13:3
New International Version
When our parents are telling us something, we learn to be silent and receive it. We could choose to ignore their instruction and can live our lives recklessly. It wouldn’t be very smart, but we can do that.
If we were to shut out ears to wise counsel, then we bring ruin on ourselves.
The idea conveyed in Proverbs 13:3 is the idea of what we gain by learning to listen. If we guard our lips, we are listening. We are gaining wisdom. We are observing the situation. We are aware of what’s really going on.
I’ll often say, “Insight is usually just careful observation.” We can learn wisdom by just paying attention to the reality of “now” instead of thinking through the next step. After all, you can’t think of step four if you’ve not learned from step one.
We can’t make careful observations if we’re always trying to dominate every situation with our words. If we’re so busy thinking of our next comeback, we’re not really listening. We’re not really trying to learn.
Proverbs 13:3 is not teaching us how to argue. Nor is it teaching us how to hold our tongue, per se. It’s demonstrating the power of receiving instruction.
I’m shocked by how many people get some strange ideas about Christianity and think they know all about it when they actually know very little. In those moments, they are faced with a choice: learn from someone that does or keep espousing unbiblical ideas and look wise in their own eyes.
We can end up in the same positions. We can be faced with an opportunity to learn the truth of the Lord, but we can squander that opportunity by keeping our mouths moving so much, our minds can’t absorb anything but the sound of our own voices.
Therefore, we must guard our lips. We must be aware that we should be silent more than speaking. We should humbly maintain a posture of learning.
This is what is meant by being “teachable”. We are teachable when we can stop flapping our lips long enough to receive instruction. The Lord wants us to have teachable attitudes. We don’t know it all and to act like we do will be to our ruin.
After all, God gave us two ears so we can hear twice as much as we speak.