June 1, 2021
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:11-12 ESV
When Ruth and I were dating, a dear friend and Christian counselor taught a class at our church based on the above verses. The curriculum focused on active listening skills and effective communication as pertains to confrontation and conflict resolution. Its principles of adult-to-adult communication have served Ruth and me well during our 28 years of marriage. It starts with prayer, which softens our hearts and helps us to see the other person through God’s eyes. Then, when we confront them, we are best able to communicate humility and concern with our words. The next step is to give our full attention to their response and then express what we think we hear them saying. Active listening and feedback continue until there is a clear understanding of the issue.
There are several good examples of fitly spoken words in Scripture, whether it be Nathan confronting David (2 Samuel 12) or Paul confronting Peter (Galatians 2). But one particular instance of actively listening saved the day for the young fledgling church. When the survival of the Church and its Gospel message was on the line over the debate about observing the Law of Moses, Spirit-led reason won out as the elders attentively listened to Paul and Barnabas. A compromised stance was developed that avoided schism and united the church (Acts 15).
Father God, help us to wisely reprove others with aptly spoken words that reflect humility and concern and with active listening that communicates attentiveness and care. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling