HAVING often said in this room that a minister ought to have one blind eye and one deaf ear, I have excited the curiosity of several brethren, who have requested an explanation; for it appears to them, as it does also to me, that the keener eyes and ears we have the better. Well, gentlemen, since the text is somewhat mysterious, you shall have the exegesis of it.
A part of my meaning is expressed in plain language by Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes (7:21): “Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee.” The margin says, “Give not thy heart to all words that are spoken;” — do not take them to heart or let them weigh with you, do not notice them, or act as if you heard them. You cannot stop people’s tongues, and therefore the best thing is to stop your own ears and never mind what is spoken. There is a world of idle chit-chat abroad, and he who takes note of it will have enough to do. He will find that even those who live with him are not always singing his praises, and that when he has displeased his most faithful servants they have, in the heat of the moment, spoken fierce words which it would be better for him not to have heard. Who has not, under temporary irritation, said that of another which he has afterwards regretted? It is the part of the generous to treat passionate words as if they had never been uttered. When a man is in an angry mood it is wise to walk away from him, and leave off strife before it be meddled with; and if we are compelled to hear hasty language, we must endeavor to obliterate it from the memory, and say with David, “But I, as a deaf man, heard not. I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.” Tacitus describes a wise man as saying to one that railed at him, “You are lord of your tongue, but I am also master of my ears” — you may say what you please, but I will only hear what I choose.
– Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Second Series, Lecture IX, “The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear.”