Silence. The space between sounds. It is found everywhere. Silence enriches the experience of life. It adds depth to music. We use it to emphasize our speech, to build suspense, to agree, to disagree, to remember, or to meditate. Without silence, our lives would be a mass of sensory input – one constant tidal wave of sound and thought.

True silence – the complete absence of sound – is something that very few, if any, have ever experienced. Silence as we usually define it a relative term, which is better defined as ‘the absence of purposed sound’, or as ‘intentional quietness’. This kind of silence is becoming increasingly rare in our world today. American culture is addicted to sound. It is unusual if there is no music or some other form of media playing in the background.

There is another type of silence: the absence of communication. This silence is what I would like to talk about. This type of silence is all but lost in our culture. Everyone has an opinion and wants to share it with everyone else. The world-wide web is full of forums, blogs, media where people share their opinions. Just do a Google search for any random topic and you will find hundreds if not thousands of related comments and opinions. Jason Vana, in an article titled “The Wisdom of Silence”, says this:

“When everyone has an opinion, when every side of a topic is spouting their ideas, when we feel everyone has to know our thoughts and think the same was as we do, we become one of the masses.

Sharing your opinion doesn’t make you unique.
It doesn’t set you apart.
It doesn’t make you seem wise or deep or correct.

It makes you no better than a fool.

There is power in keeping silent.
There is depth in holding our tongues.

In a world that values noise and opinions and debate over who is right, being quiet is rare.
And wise. [1]”

While this quote is not from God’s Word, there are some Bible verses that also say that silence shows wisdom. Proverbs 10:19 says “When words are many, transgression is not lacking; but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” The Bible even goes so far as to say that a foolish man can look wise by keeping silent – “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Prov 7:27-28)

There are more benefits to keeping silent than just showing wisdom. We often hear the expression “sticking your foot in your mouth”. This is also spoken about in the Bible. Solomon told us in Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Keeping silent not only shows wisdom, but helps you to think things over before getting yourself caught by your words.

These passages in Proverbs are advice from a very wise man and we should take them seriously. However, even more serious are the commands given to us in the New Testament about not using certain kinds of speech. Paul told the Ephesians “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29) Paul tells us that  the kingdom of God is aboutrighteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17) Corrupting talk is almost guaranteed to drive righteousness, peace, and joy out of any conversation.

Jesus was another person in the New Testament that talked about speech. In Matthew 12:33-37, he taught that a man reveals his heart by his speech. He also gave us a warning that on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak“. (verse 36) We must be careful that the words we do use are not just blurted out without thought.

The best example of keeping silent was lived out when Jesus was put on trial. Many men came and testified against him, but he did not respond to one of them. It was astounding to Pilate that he did not even respond to one testimony. “And Pilate again asked Him, ‘Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.” (Mark 15:4-5) Peter also talks about Jesus’ example in 1 Peter 2:22-23 “He committed no sin, neither was , deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” How much different this world would be if all who claimed to be Christians would have this attitude!

There are times to share our thoughts, but there are also times to keep silent. A wise man can decide when to speak and when not to. Even Solomon said that silence is often the wiser choice. There is another blog called “Philosiblog” that has a short article about silence titled “Silence is True Wisdom’s Best Reply”. I would highly recommend reading it if you have the time. It gives some very good insight about when to keep silent and when not to.

 

 

References:

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 – “The Wisdom of Silence” – http://www.jasonvana.com/the-wisdom-of-silence/

2 – “Silence is True Wisdom’s Best Reply” – http://philosiblog.com/2013/05/13/silence-is-true-wisdoms-best-reply/

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