Summary: Know what it takes to be in a community. Find ways to communicate healthy.
Let's pray. Precious God, we thank you, thank you for the opportunity to worship, we thank you for your words, words that bring us life, words that show us what life should be like. We are grateful to worship and we commit this time to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Well, I would imagine all of us have seen the commercial where the guy has got the phone up to his ear and he is saying, "Can you hear me now?" He's on the beach, he's in the tundra, he's in the middle of some kind of crowded place, and he's making a connection. "Can you hear me clearly?" It's kind of an illustration of just what our society is like now. The incredible, technological capacity we have to be in touch with any body, any time, any place. We are connected by cell phones that ring at all kinds of occasions, sometimes even during worship services. We are connected with WiFi and airports and on college campuses. Got Blue Tooth connections, and instant messaging. I can even have my computer read me my e-mail out loud if I wanted to. We have incredible technological capacity to be in touch with anybody at any time and any place. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we communicate with one another better. We can make this connection over incredible distances, but the fact is when it comes to building relationships, building a sense of intimacy, making a connection with people, communication has always been a struggle from the very dawn of human history. And since it has been a struggle for so long, we've needed good advice about communication from the very start.
And so what I would like to do this morning is to look into the Book of Proverbs and pick out some things it says about communication, about building intimacy, building relationships with good communications. Now, the Book of Proverbs is not like a typical book of the Bible. Usually a Book of the Bible is a story. It has to do with people's lives. It talks about the activities that happened, and the way they related to God about wars, about politics, about all these kinds of relationships that people have and how God was in that situation working. About 60% of the Bible is stories. The vast majority of the rest is teachings, organized communication that's trying to convey something to us for example, like Paul's letters where he is trying to talk to a specific church and tell them what it means to walk with Jesus Christ. And then there are prophets in the Old Testament that have these long organized communications, these speeches that they gave, and those are the vast majority of the rest of the Bible. And these stories and these letters and the prophet's teachings are intended to be read from start to finish, but Proverbs isn't like that. Proverbs is a loosely connected group of very short sayings and so usually the main thing you are looking at is in one or two lines, and so I am going to jump all over the Book of Proverbs and pick out things that it says about communication and relating to one another. So I would like to begin in Chapter 25 and go to verse 11 and 12.
"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear."
I would like to read that to you in a different translation, contemporary English version. It says this; "The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver." That's what apt words are. The right word at the right time. That's what good communication is all about. But how do we select the right word at the right time? That's the real problem. Okay, we know that the right word at the right time is important, but what does it mean to do that in a relationship? Well, I would like to move on. How do we know what it is like and what the right words are?
"He who answers before listening that is his folly and his shame."
Again, let me read it to you in the contemporary, the CEV version.
"It's stupid and embarrassing to give an answer before you listen.”
That's good advice, isn't it? It's obvious, but think of how few good listeners there are out there in the world. It's amazing how often people answer questions we are not asking and how they go to great lengths to give us information about the obvious. You know it can happen even in relationships with our kids. A young child, a four-year-old comes up and says, "Mom and dad where do dogs come from?" And so you are trying to figure out on what level of veterinarian science are you going to answer this question and then you hear their followup question. "Well, Davie's dog came from a pet shop but ours came from a farm." The question is really different than what you initially thought. And this happens all the time in relationships with one another. So often, we don't listen well, and listening is so important that anybody who is in a helping ministry or in a helping occupation has to learn how to listen.