May 21st Listening to the Right Voices

Reading Proverbs 21:1-31

In his book ‘If you want to walk on water you’ve got to get out of the boat’ John Ortberg quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s famous words:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

From time to time God places before us critics. Sometimes these people are loving and kind and want nothing but the best for us. They gently help us be all that God wants us to be; there is a need for such mentors and friends in our lives. However, there are the others: usually angry and jealous, people with their own agendas, the “scoffers” (24). We need extra grace from God to deal with such people. I call them EGRs (Extra Grace Required). The trouble is, if they get inside our heads we continually hear their voice and sadly it can be so loud it drowns out God’s. We are robbed of confidence, become fearful, timid and soon are afraid to “step out the boat”.

Solomon, throughout Proverbs, has repeatedly asked us to listen. But as we saw in the first 9 chapters – it is important to listen to the right voices. When we are listening to God and His word, we become wise, then not only can we walk on water, we can scale the walls of the mighty (22).

Mathew writes:

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”(Matthew 14:25-33 NIV)

For memorisation

There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
that can succeed against the Lord
. (Proverbs 21:30)


Father, thank you I am held by you. I ask that you may drown out all other voices in my head. The voices of those who would discourage me, the voice of my ego and that of my flesh. I give myself today to listening for your still, small voice. In Jesus Name. Amen.


  • Mary Dicker says:

    I think most of us find it difficult to cope with criticism, but Andy has pointed out that there at those who want to build us up and those who want to destroy us. I need to listen to those who are builders and refuse to listen to the demolition experts.
    Often in counselling younger children tell me about the unkind things over children say to them. This can be so damaging and hurtful. I teach them the ‘Mary technique.’
    ‘Grab it, scrunch it, stamp on it.’ When a child is saying unkind things, the child on the receiving end holds out wit hand, grabs the words, scrunches them titghtly in their fist, drops them to the ground and stamps on them!
    It works for adults too!
    Jesus has the words of eternal life, let me listen.

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