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November 16, 2014, 12:00 AM

Knowledge Without Wisdom is Useless Part 2

Being isolated for long periods of time is hard for anyone. It is also hard for me. But my knee is healed and my feet are healing, and I am so thankful for your prayers and support! Hopefully it won’t be too much longer.

Sometimes, my favorite thing to do is to sit and listen to people. I Love to sit somewhere and listen to someone whom I don’t know talk about their life and experience. Not just why they think something. But, how did their life and their family and their experiences bring them to where they are at that moment. Non-Christian, fine! Political views, doesn’t matter.  Old, young, great. Listening to their life experiences and what brought them to where they are in life fascinates me. Sometimes, I hear pure stupidity. That’s okay. But surprisingly, not as much as you would think. I realize what a blessing this is more and more every day. I wondered where I learned this.

Growing up, I spent many days on my aunts front porch in Runa, West Virginia, in the 60’s and 70’s . I didn’t realize what a blessing it was then. Picture a single lane road running for miles back into the mountains of rural West Virginia. As you climb the gravel switchbacks for a good 5 miles, all of a sudden, at the top of the mountain, a small community of about 200 opens up. There is a general store with a post office, a one room school house, a little farther across the ridge was a small church with a cemetery and a small dirt road that went down the mountain to my family’s farm. Sadly, most of it is gone now.

Many times, when I was there, I hung out at the general store / post office, which my aunt ran. Everyone came there, every day, to the post office to get their mail and swap stories. That is where I learned it. People loved to congregate on that front porch and talk. I really had nothing to contribute, but I could listen. I learned the history of my family and the area. I learned about why people chose the political views they had. I learned why my grandpa was damaged by mustard gas in WWI. I learned about WWII and Korea and Viet Nam not from a book, but from people who had been a part of it. I learned the real secret of why America was so great.  I learned about why, in some ways, America wasn’t so great. Sometimes I just heard things because I was bored. Sometimes I listened.

I did the same thing with my Grandpa in Salem, Ohio. Sitting on a bench in town getting to know people. It helped me to see why racism was so bad, and just how hard black people still had it in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I heard how women were still mistreated and why.

The most important thing I learned is there is a world of difference between hearing and listening. I think listening is more of a selective art nowadays. We form a viewpoint, usually from someone we have heard or something we have seen or read somewhere, and then we spend our time trying to make all of the information we process fit through that filter. Maybe it’s a political view; maybe it’s a Biblical view. It is called Eisegesis and it is the wrong way to learn and, in my opinion, is the cause of at least some of the problems we have today. To live life this way all you have to do is hear. Selectively find the famous or educated people from days gone by and start quoting them and there you go. Leave out the things that don't fit. Add a couple of statistics. Put in some emotional quotes. Then, you can argue with the best of them on social media. Google will support any position you can come up with. People do it with the Bible all of the time.

The opposite is Exegesis. It means, to read the text and draw out the meaning according to the context that the author represented along with it’s discoverable meaning. It is much less used because to do this you have to do much more than hear; you have to listen. It is hard because we all have biases and preformed notions we carry with us.

You may ask, ”What does this have to do with change and growth?” My response is, “Everything!” You will never change and grow as long as you are just hearing. When you do this, you are busy forming a response or excuse in your brain, you disregard it because it doesn’t fit into your eisegeical view of the world. And, whether you realize it or not, we treat God, many times the same way.

One of the things I was blessed to see during all of those interactions was what not to do. I would see someone spouting a view and could see what a failure their life was and I could say, “Okay, there is what not to do.” I had gotten to know these people; where they came from and how they got where they were. And the opposite was also true. People who were a good example, I could see who they were and it made the work they put into life make sense.

Listening instead of hearing does much more. You learn those people around you. You see their needs, their strengths and you don’t need to ask them how to help; you already know. God places people around you to help you. We don’t hear God, because of a bias or arrogance, and we choose who we listen to when God may have a whole other plan. But, we love our righteous anger, don’t we?

If you are unwilling to sit down and listen, not hear, you are foolish. I probably fit into that group. Listening is where wisdom comes from, not hearing. That is why you have to get to that deeper level, especially with God if you ever want to grow.  Knowledge comes from man, wisdom comes from God. Period.

James 1:19-21
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Proverbs 12:15  
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 17:27  
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 18:13  
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:2  
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.


Some of the wisest people I have known, came from different backgrounds, different education levels, different ages. But they were all trained listeners. If you want to grow and want to change, you have to learn to listen. You have to make an effort to get to know why people feel the way they do. People you choose to draw knowledge from have to have a life that demonstrates the proper treatment of that knowledge. I am going to work on that…


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