“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.”
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 26:12
Perhaps no sin may grieve God more than an unwillingness to listen to others. That may seem like a strong statement to you, but according to God being unwilling to listen is the essence of pride. The passages in Proverbs I listed above help us to see this clearly. Each opening phrase highlights the fool’s perspective. In the second phrase, God answers the pride of the fool. These proverbs not only expose the folly of failing to listen to the advice of those around us; they remind us our attitude of independence is naked and exposed to the eyes of God who can see our heart.
Are you a good listener? I cannot tell you how many times I have caught myself drifting in thought while my wife Emily shares with me something important on her heart. The problem is not with Emily. She is beautiful, easy to talk to, considerate in her conversation, and my closest companion in life. No, the problem is with me. By failing to listen, I reveal a heart of pride that considers my thoughts more important than hers. Even if I do not always agree with her, I ought to hear her out completely.
The Proud Fruits of Ignorance
I can think of two kinds of arrogant fruits that sprout from an unwillingness to listen. The first is easiest to spot. It is the proud refusal to listen to anyone who disagrees with me. We can immediately see the foolishness of this kind of pride in others. The least we can do is educate ourselves and give others a fair hearing. In listening to other people’s advice, we also do ourselves a big favor. We glean a fuller perspective of the issues at hand. We discover blind spots we never saw before. We grow into a more balanced opinion, rather than living off knee-jerk reactions. But if you refuse to ever listen to people who disagree with you, or impatiently forge ahead with little research, you short-circuit the entire wisdom process. You may even hurt yourself and others. These actions expose a heart of pride and arrogant folly, God tells us.
The second kind of arrogant fruit that sprouts from an unwillingness to listen is much more subtle and dangerous than the first. It develops more slowly, but its roots grow deeper and stronger. Why? Because this second arrogant fruit grows in the soil of those who have already avoided the first folly. This kind of person has done the hard work of research. They know all the possible options. They have patiently gleaned from various perspectives. They may have even discovered their own blind spots. But while God intends this process to humble that person with the realization of how little they know, they grow arrogant instead. Their learning should cause them recognize their own fallibility in comparison to God’s perfection. Yet instead of responding in humility, in mutual submission, and in gracious love towards others, they close their hearts to the words others are saying. They listen with their head, but fail to listen with their heart.
Listen with Your Heart
This is what God means when he warns, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2) Why does our heart attitude matter so much to God? Because we may know the best decision to make yet in pride refuse to make that decision. We may know what God wants, but go our own way anyway because, in pride, we want it more.
I know this is true in my own life when Emily and I are having a “discussion,” and she makes a good point. I may know Emily is right, but in my pride I refuse to agree with her. My head and my heart are misaligned. In the face of this folly God warns us, “the Lord weighs the heart.”
So beware of being unwilling to listen. Pride festers in the flowerbeds of ignorance. Give God the worship he deserves with your entire being, both head and heart.