Good Idea: "Listen"

Opening: (Proverbs 16:20, 18:13, 18:15, 19:20) – Good Ideas are rules to live by that are most often there for ourown good, to lead us toward a full life. Sometimes we see those rules, or “stopsigns,” as arbitrary and unfair, but most often they’re showing us God’s bestplan for us. This week we look at another one: listening. The Bible has much to say about it – almost as if God issaying, “Listen! You need to listen well!”

1.  Listening is a Good Idea(James1:19-20)

- What isit about listening that’s such a good idea? The book of James starts itsdiscussion about how important it is to speakcarefully with a warning about the importance of listening first, and gives us two reasons that listening is a goodidea – two things that good listening protects us from:

a.     DamagingWords – Listening carefully (and humbly) can protect us fromsaying wrong, dumb and/or spiteful things that can hurt others deeply andquickly damage our relationships.

b.     UselessAnger (Ephesians 4:26 KJV) – If we’re good listeners, Jamestells us, we will be much less likely to generate quick and “useless” angerfrom jumping to conclusions and misunderstanding.

- Knowingthat it’s so good for our relationships, why is listening often so hard for us?Perhaps because “hard listening” often reveals what we don’t want to hearand/or what we don’t want to know.

2.  How to be a BetterListener

- So howcan we get better at listening, even to the hard and difficult truths we needso much to hear? Scripture offers four good tips for us – if we’re willing tofollow them.

a.     ResistYour First Reaction (John 8:44) – Our first reaction to hard/bad newsand information is almost always wrong, because we all have a strong mentalparadigm of how things are and should be, so info contrary to that paradigmrattles us. When it does, we’re all prone to do/say/think things we don’t wantto – selfish and hurtful things that merely gratify our “old (selfish) self.”

b.     SurroundYourself with the Right People (Proverbs 11:14 KJV) – Our best sourceof wisdom comes from those around us – godly, experienced men and women wholove us enough to speak truth into our lives. Surrounding ourselves with thosepeople leads to humble listening, arecognition that we always have more to learn and there’s always a differentway to look at things.

c.     AskQuestions (Proverbs 2:2) – Asking clarifying questions whensomeone speaks to you (especially when they speak hard and true things) is thebest way to “tune your ears to wisdom.”

d.     Let ThemCatch You (Proverbs 27:6) – Honestly, some people in our lives are“professional stop-sign holders” – those who seem to have a self-given missionof discouraging others by telling them what they can’t and shouldn’t do. (Runfrom them!)  But others – those who loveus – hold stop signs because they simply want what’s best for us. Let them“catch you” as they chase after you.


These passages may provide additional insights related to the subject of this week’s message. All verses are NLT unless otherwise noted.

Proverbs12:15; Proverbs 17:27-28; Romans 7:15-20; Colossians 3:15-16; James 1:5

Video of the Week: Wisdom Series: Proverbs by the Bible Project


  1. Would you say that you’re a good listener?  Why or why not?  
  2. In your experience, what qualities make someone a good listener?   
  3. Read James 1:19-20again.  By your understanding, what do you think it means to be “quick to listen”? 
  4. What would you say is the relationship between listening and anger?
  5. Of the four tips from Scripture on how to become a better listener, which one would you say has been most effective in your life?  Explain your answer.
  6. Would you say that, in general, you’ve “surrounded yourself with the right people” in your life – i.e., those who are worth listening to?  Why or why not?  If not, how can you start doing that?
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