Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”

Why would King David start out a prayer commenting on human foolishness? My guess is he was called a fool by someone. Prayer is a great way of working through insult. Nobody likes to be called a fool, but everybody feels like one sometimes.

Those of us who feel like a fool, most likely are not foolish. One of the trademarks of fools is their habit of fooling themselves. Their oblivion to their own foolish behavior points to bad self-assessment. Poor listening skills are another common feature of a fool.

Grooming our listening skills is a great way to grow wiser; God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason – we should listen twice before speaking up – but sometimes we talk for two instead of pausing to lend one ear.

While my husband and I were recording our Christmas album we wanted to come up with background vocals for most of our songs. There is no way we could have created any decent harmony without first listening to the lead vocal. And after the first harmony track was laid down, the second harmony had to listen to both lead vocal and first harmony to be able to mesh. A multilayered rich harmony was the ultimate result.

What is true for the sound of music is also true for human interactions. We need to listen before we talk. Without listening we are not having a conversation but a talking match, and the person who has the last word, wins – not really! When everybody talks and nobody listens, everybody loses and nobody gains anything. People who only listen to themselves talk will eventually come to a dead end. Narcissistic tendencies lead to full time foolishness.

Make no mistake about it: Somebody calling you a fool may be the person giving you a wake-up call. But then again, depending on who is not listening – it may be the very person calling you a fool who is foolish. Listening to the Spirit of God, we learn and grow in wisdom every day. This will not prevent us from being called a fool every now and then. But we will have the humility and wherewithal to discern who the fool is.

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