An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.Proverbs 17:4
“O, be careful little ears what you hear…”
This familiar line comes from the children’s song many of us learned in Sunday school. The moral is to be careful what we listen to because of how it affects us. Words from evil sources can have a corrupting influence on us. We must be cautious about our auditory intake.
But Proverbs 17:4 comes at listening from another angle. It points out that what we willingly listen to says something about us. Jesus rightly said that what we say reveals our inner character (Mark 7:20-23). This proverb teaches similarly that what we are willing to hear others say reveals our hearts as well.
King Solomon enlightens us, “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”
“An evildoer listens…” One’s character is revealed when they willingly listen to “wicked lips”: gossip and slander that aims to cause harm.
“A liar pays attention…” One’s character is revealed when they give heed to a “destructive tongue”: deceptive lies, rumors, false accusations seeking to stir up trouble.
What do you listen to? What voices do you actively pursue and what does that say about you?
- Do you listen to ungodly music?
- Are you eager to learn the latest gossip from a friend?
- Are you waiting to catch the latest slander in the news?
- Are you anticipating the next celebrity expose on social media?
- Are you searching for the newest rumors of the latest conspiracy theory?
What does your “listening” say about you? Is it a reflection of a love for Christ and His righteousness? Or is it telling of the corruption of your heart?
It is easy to fool ourselves into thinking that we are the righteous ones because we aren’t the ones saying anything- we only heard it! While we may not be the foolish speaker, this proverb condemns being what Derek Kidner calls, the “guilty listener.”
The children’s song warns, “be careful little ears what you hear.” Why? Well, according to Proverbs 17:4 our willing ears reveal just as much as our talking mouths do about the character of our heart. As Derek Kidner observed, “evil words die without a welcome; and the welcome gives us away.”