My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-3 NLT)
No words seem more appropriate in these complicated and confusing times that we find ourselves in.
Have you noticed that the wearing of masks turned into a contentious, and in some places, a political issue? It’s sad. To some, if you don’t wear a mask you want people to die. To others, wearing a mask means you are giving in to tyrannical government overreach. To some, if you wear masks in public you are truly loving your neighbor, which by implication means if you don’t wear a mask in public you are not being a good Christian. Recently, in a store, I saw a man with a mask that actually had “Love Thy Neighbor” printed on it. Since I was not wearing one I felt judged. Then I found myself internally judging him for being judgmental! It’s all complicated. May God give us insight and understanding for these times!
Have you also noticed that knowing what is true and factual regarding the virus and it’s impact is harder to discern? It seems more and more that people’s personal and political biases are influencing the news and numbers. Again, it’s sad. I’ve observed that news and reports from traditionally left-leaning sources seem to contain worst case scenarios and recommend the strongest restrictions. Similarly, the traditionally right-leaning sources often seem to share better case scenarios and are encouraging a faster return to normal. I’m not sure who is right or wrong, however it is obvious to me that the biases are real and that people’s responses to the crisis are being heavily influenced by which news sources they listen to. What you choose to tune your ears to directly impacts your beliefs and therefore your behaviors. It’s all confusion. May we tune our ears to God’s wisdom and gain understanding during these times!
I was personally disturbed last week when I saw in the news a running daily total of Covid-19 cases and deaths, which is tragic. But then, when I spoke with a surgeon friend of mine, I was informed that some hospitals are “coding” patients as having Covid-19 in order to get the increased benefits from Federal Funding. He is not a believer, and his term for it was “human greed.” Although I have no proof that he’s right, I also have no reason to doubt him. Either way it makes me question the real numbers I read in the news every day. What are the true numbers? I don’t know. Who do I listen to? My response to the crisis is directly affected by who I tune my ears to listen to. Again, it’s complicated and confusing, so may we all cry out to God and ask for insight and understanding during these times!
Wanting to do this very thing for myself I decided to reread the book of Proverbs in my daily quiet time. That decision was quickly affirmed when I read the last verse of chapter one which says, “whoever listens to me [wisdom] will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Pr. 1:33 (NIV) Living in safety and being at ease, without fear of harm sounds pretty good right now doesn’t it? Listening to wisdom seems, well, wise. As I continued to read, I came across two other proverbs that perfectly address the question of how to get insight and understanding in order to cut through the complications and confusion of the crisis. Let me briefly share them with you here. The first is Proverbs 14:15, which says, “The gullible believe anything they’re told; the prudent sift and weigh every word.” (Msg)
You might want to pause and read that again and let it sink in a bit.
What it is saying is, “Don’t believe everything you hear or read.” The wise thing to do is “sift and weigh every word” you hear and read. That, of course, is true in normal times, but how much more during this confusing crisis. It’s smart to take the time to understand just who you’ve tuned your ears to in order to hear whatever you’re being told. It’s wise to ask what the source is. It’s prudent to have knowledge about a source’s bias. It’s wise to ask where the scientific data came from. Notice that Proverbs 14:15 doesn’t say, “The prudent sift and weigh every word, unless it comes from a scientific study.” No. It says “every word.”
The second proverb I came across on this topic is Proverbs 18:13, which says, “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.” (NLT) It’s wise to get the facts! When you hear the latest news or tweet or study, before either letting your mind run away with fear about it, or dismissing it outright because it doesn’t affirm your hopes, take the time to get the facts. There’s an old leadership saying that says, “Respond don’t react.” It’s foolish, according to God, to react before tuning your ears to the facts, and it’s wise to learn the facts as best as you can and then respond accordingly.
So who are you tuning your ears to during this crisis? Who are you choosing the listen to? Are you “sifting and weighing every word” that comes at you from every email, social media feed, or news organization? Are you taking the time to get all the facts and letting your decisions and emotions be guided by them and not everything you’re told? During this complicated and confusing time, remember that not everything you hear will be true with one exception: the Word of God.
So again: “My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-3 NLT)