“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Prov. 18:13).
In any form of human relationships this proverb holds true. If you have watched some of the news clips of our nation debating the health care issue, you have observed this proverb in action. Or perhaps you observed a family interaction in which you saw it played out. Recently, I stood in an airport and watched a transaction between a distressed passenger and an airline agent. Both spoke without listening and both displayed foolishness.
My pastor, Dr. Harry Reeder, has been emphasizing the sufficiency of the Word of God in recent sermons. At our last Presbytery meeting, Dr. Bob Flayhart preached the same message with wonderful clarity. He pointed out those behavioral changes and various strategies for managing our sinful tendencies, while useful, often side track us from realizing that it is the sufficient word that leads us to the power of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit that effects lasting change.
You see it is important that we hear the Word before we prescribe an answer for others or ourselves. All too often we find ourselves at Borders rummaging through the self-help books looking to find a “practical answer” when we should be rummaging around the Word of God listening to the Lord to find a solution to our struggles.
The Word of God is quick and powerful. When we really listen it diagnoses our problems and prescribes God’s solutions which come with the promise of the power of God to execute them.
Our culture keeps uncovering more and more evidence that a two parent family is the very best environment in which a child can grow up. And yet even Christians are slow to hear the Word of God that marriage is for a life time and the responsibility of parents is to nurture children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6). The writers of our culture who dispense advice on marriage and child rearing without first listening to the Word of God should begin to at least listen to best of their own research. Christian writers and readers need to first listen to God’s Word as well.
Another issue about which our culture is speaking to itself a somewhat parallel message as the Word of God is in regard to television viewing by children. “Computers and television have pushed a generation of children towards violent behavior, early sex and mental illness, a large-scale study said yesterday. Several studies have found that the average child watches 21 hours of television per week. Compare that to the time the average Christian child is exposed to the Word of God. In the best situation I would estimate an hour on Sunday and ten minutes a day. One study found that simply limiting the television viewing diminished the accumulated effects.
When children ask the question, “How do I make a choice about sex, or drugs or right and wrong?” without having heard the Word of God, they will tap into the decadent culture. MTV, their favorite band, their peers become their guide. Even our cultural researchers are affirming the folly.
So, the next time you are struggling with an issue in life, search the Word and listen to hear God’s answer before you answer your longings. When your child or teen is struggling with the issues of life, take the time to lead them through the Word so that they can hear God before they decide.
 “On a positive note, these television watching effects are easily curable by simply turning off the TV and participating in enriching family activities. The 2005 University of Washington study also found that in addition to eliminating or severely limiting television watching time, kids were almost one-third less likely to become bullies if they received cognitive stimulation and emotional support from their parents.” http://www.add-adhd-help-center.com/newsletters/tv_statistics.htm