“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.”
One of the most important character traits a person must develop if they want God to use them is the ability to hear. Hearing is more than just listening to the sounds of words coming out of one’s mouth, but hearing is listening to the words so that you can know what to do. No one has ever become wise without developing a hearing ear and heart. Nobody has ever followed instructions without first hearing the one who gives the instructions. Hearing is more than just hearing the words with your ears, but it is also listening with your heart and mind.
Hearing can only be accomplished if you stop talking and start listening. When I was a boy, my mother would often tell me to be quiet and listen. She would often tell me that God gave me two ears and one mouth so that I can listen twice as much as I talk. You will never become who God wants you to become without listening to the instructions from those who love you enough to tell you the right way to go. When studying the Book of Proverbs, there are four types of words that the believer is told to hear.
First, hear the words of counsel. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” Counsel comes by going to an authority to get instructions about what you should do. You can’t hear counsel if you never go to get counsel. Many people have made wrong decisions because they went to inform their counselor instead of listening to them. Moreover, you hear counsel through preaching. Many people miss God’s counsel because they zone out during the preaching. You must purposely pay attention to the preacher and listen if you are going to hear the counsel he is giving from God’s Word.
Second, hear the words of instruction. The verse above tells children to hear the “instruction of a father.” You cannot hear instructions if your mind is already made up about what you are going to do while the instructions are being given. Many people have missed vital instructions because they hear part of the instructions and stop listening. Let me caution you to hear all of the instructions being given. Listening to a portion of the instructions is not hearing instruction. All of the lessons of instructions given to you are important to living a righteous life. Don’t presume you know all of the instructions because you have heard part of them. Be silent and pay attention as you hear all of the instructions.
Third, hear the words of the wise. Proverbs 22:17 says, “hear the words of the wise.” Wise people often don’t talk much, but you had better be listening to what they say when they do talk. Don’t let your know-it-all attitude cause you to miss hearing the instructions of the wise. The know-it-all is so busy telling everyone how much they don’t know that they miss the wisdom from those who do know. If you hear the words of the wise, you will quickly learn how much you don’t know.
Fourth, hear directional words. Proverbs 23:19 says, “Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.” You will never know which way to choose in life if you don’t hear. Many times I heard wise people teach me the importance of choosing direction, and I am glad I listened because directional words always keep you positionally right. You will stay positionally right if you learn to hear and follow directional advice.