Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the LORD. — Proverbs 20:12

Helen Keller was born in 1880. When she was not yet two years old, she developed a fever by which she lost both her hearing and her sight. Think of it: she was unable to see, hear, or speak. Yet she excelled to such an extent that she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College.

She said, “the problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important, than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune for it means the loss of the most vital stimulus—the sound of the voice—that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.”

Keller might find herself in an argument if she returned to the world today. Now we say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the ubiquity of screens has made nearly all people more visually oriented. We can still say, though, that to lose either sight or hearing has momentous effects on human life.

The writer of Proverbs did not get into comparisons of the relative worth of eye and ear, because he believed, “Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord” (Proverbs 20:12). We need to appreciate these gifts. We need to make use of our God-given opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the created world laid out in such profusion and grandeur before our eyes. We need to listen to the wealth of knowledge, beauty, and experience available to our ears.

Rather than taking sight and hearing for granted, these sensory faculties and what they provide for us should take on even greater significance when seen as gifts from God. We are as accustomed to seeing and hearing as we are to breathing and to the operation of the cardiovascular system. So we pay no attention to any of them—until something goes wrong, of course.

But to embark on a day with eyes literally wide open and ears pricked so as not to miss a sight or a sound is to live at a higher level. Doing so from time to time will enrich the life, because God planned for it to be so enriched. At the end of the day, to reflect on what you have heard and seen and to give thanks to the Giver of gifts who made it possible is to live with a sharpened sense of enjoyment and a richer sense of worship.

Not everything you hear is profitable, “so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much” (20:19), and “haughty eyes”—among other things—“are all sin” (21:4).

Remember the three monkeys? “Hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil.” They got it right!

For further study: Proverbs 20:1-21

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.