“He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” ~ Proverbs 18:13
Rather than describing a specific character, this proverb refers to an action—a dumb action! The person who answers before listening either thinks they’re really smart or doesn’t care about the person they’re listening to.
The individual who will “answer before listening” is more interested in hearing themselves speak than anything else. Likely, they care more about themselves than others—maybe more than anyone else!
It is clear from this verse that such actions are both foolish and shameful. The term “folly” implies not a mental but a moral deficiency. A character problem, not an intellectual problem, exists here.
As a result, such thinking and actions are “shameful” or “disgraceful.” The best thing that can be said about these individuals is that they are more interested in solving a problem than in those affected by it.
My experience working with Deaf schools and Deaf Camp has seen hundreds of people be saved and accept Christ as their Savior. I was sitting at my desk several years ago after having planned out a Deaf Camp for the summer when a 14-year-old girl from our youth ministry knocked on my door. “Ashton, I’ve got an idea. Let’s have a big fat Jesus carnival at Deaf Camp this summer.” As I put on my fake smile, I told her, “What an interesting idea.” That was the wildest idea I’d ever heard. Being 14, she had no idea what she was talking about. That old campground would not allow such a large carnival due to its size. I respond, “All right, thanks, interesting, now go.” Her ideas were already halfway down my mental trash can.
Then, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. “Ashton, when did you become so proud not even to consider whether an idea is from me simply because the messenger is 14 years old?” I felt bad and repented. I looked at the idea and asked, “What should I do with it?” My only option was to contact the campground since I didn’t want to lose faith. It was pride that drove me not to appear as a complete idiot. The concern over my self-image made me put it above obedience and what the Spirit of God told me to do. This led to me calling that camp, and I hated it.
“Hello, I’m the Camp Director at Liberty Deaf Camp. Since we love Jesus and want to share the gospel with the world, we want to make a big outreach with carnival events. Would that be okay?” As a result, they responded, “That question has never been asked before.” After a while, she wanted to end the conversation. Then she said they’d contact me again soon. My expectations were low, but we heard from them again after a week. “After reviewing your statistics from last year, we are impressed.” We were allowed to use the campground, and they gave us an opportunity. That summer, the campground could only accommodate 150 people, but from 210 Deaf campers, 42 accepted Christ that week. As I reflected on the experience, I said, “Thank God for a 14-year-old girl who heard something I did not hear and for God humbling me.”
This would not have occurred if I had done everything for my pride. As we learn during these moments, we must remain open to listening to what others say to gain wisdom and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. According to James 1:19, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak.”
Questions for Thought
- Consider the benefits of following the advice in Proverbs 18:13. What benefits have you experienced from listening before speaking? How have these benefits impacted your relationships and decisions?
- What insight and wisdom have you gained from pausing to listen?
My Heavenly Father, I am grateful for your wisdom. Please remind me of Proverbs 18:13 and allow me to listen before I speak. Give me the patience to pause and appreciate the other person’s perspective. I want to say respectful and gentle things. I want to use them to build relationships and bring peace. Help me honor you, so I can actively apply the wisdom of listening and understanding. Guide me so that daily behavior demonstrates Christ’s character, creates a respectful environment, and demonstrates His love and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ashton Luff is the Deaf Minister at First Baptist Dallas, serving as the Lead Pastor of First Dallas Deaf Church. He finds his greatest joy in seeing lives transformed by the power of the gospel. Following God’s calling after his salvation, Ashton now serves as the Lead Pastor of Silent Friends. Ashton and his wife, Megan, have been married for 16 years and have two daughters, ages 9 and 7. In June 2022, they welcomed an 18-year-old Deaf exchange student from Ukraine, who has become like their third daughter.