Proverbs is chalked full of talking about not listening to a fool. It is strange how many times I have thrown someone under the “fool bus” if they do not agree with what I say. “After all, I shouldn’t listen to them in the first place.”
This type of mentality needs to be challenged.
I think the key is to understand what we are talking about when referring to “listening”. Listening and hearing are two different things in this instance. Hearing would entail the ability to understand what the other person is saying, while still not necessarily believing what they said. Listening, in this instance, would be used as hearing and truly taking to heart what someone has said. One of the greatest empowerments we receive from Jesus is not only to hear what others say, whom we disagree with, but to also even possibly adhere to what they are saying.
Case in point, the Pharisees.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” (Mt. 23:1-3)
The Pharisees were fools and in many ways enemies, yet Jesus says that some of what they said was legit and should be taken. Dan Allender puts it this way in Leading with A Limp:
“One of the best sources of perspective is enemies. If we can learn from them, then we can profit from anyone. Enemies mean to do us harm with biased and often cruel words. But many times the assault begins, ends or is peppered with enough truth to make the assault credible and the wounds worthy of careful attention.”
Here is how I try to practically implement being able to hear what people say, but not necessarily receive everything. I imagine that I have a catcher’s mitt over my heart. As people say things I try to catch it in the mitt, open the mitt to the Father, and then ask Him if it is true. Here is what this has allowed.
1. It allows me to commune with God, which is preeminent in all things.
2. Sometimes people are just cruel and you don’t need to waste time thinking about what they said. Instead, you bring in before God and let Him speak truth to you. This will also allow Him to speak words of healing, if you have been wounded.
3. Sometimes people will say things to flatter you, but it is only to manipulate you. In this case you may even be able to receive the words that came from their mouth as a compliment from God, while still not submitting your self ultimately to what the other person is trying to manipulate you into doing.
4. Sometimes people you do not necessarily like a ton will say things that still need to be taken and implemented.