"Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues." Proverbs 10:19
I was tempted to not write anything for this verse. It surely speaks for itself. It’s a lesson I should have tattooed on my wrist so I never forget it! When I am nervous, angry, excited, or joyful, I talk. I babble. I had to apologize recently to a fairly new friend about my babbling. She introduced me to her friends and I found myself a brook overflowing with silly words. I walked away praying, “I did it again! Why can’t I just be normal and stop talking??”
The Holy Spirit, boy does He deserve a medal in trying to help me with this. I think He sees progress. I am being more discerning about keeping my mouth shut when others share their difficulties. I’m not always jumping in and giving my personal or political opinion. I’m also refraining from feeling the need to lash out when offended. I’m seeing the fruit of zipping my lips. Shocking, isn’t it, when we take God’s Word to heart how it seems to actually work?
So today my friend, here’s a challenge, unless asked for your opinion, don’t give it. If someone is sharing a story, don’t add your own. If you are confronted by a stranger, as Dr. Laura used to say, “smile and wave.” Zip your lips for a day. You just might find a bit more peace.
Holy God, although I know you enjoy a joyful noise on occasion, I also know you appreciate the beauty of silence. Help me today to be silent when needed. Amen.
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
I was having lunch the other day with a friend and she shared with me a disturbing trend in her two Bible study groups. She said to me, “I’ve had it. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to hear either side anymore.” You see, the Christians in her group forgot who was in charge of their lives and the great gift of peace bestowed on believers. They started arguing about politics. In fact, one of her groups completely dissolved because of this.
When we think about the status of our faith, we usually concern ourselves inwardly. But throughout the New Testament we are charged with guiding our fellow believers closer to God’s truths and blessings.
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
So often that “bitter root” that gets fomented in our churches, faith groups, Bible studies, etc causes people to disconnect from their faith journey. And if we have joined in creating that situation, we must count ourselves at least partially responsible for the results.
It is easy to throw stones at others, but glass houses should whisper caution.
Charles Spurgeon on A Political Dissenter
That’s not to say we aren’t to discuss the worldly goings on and the effects they have on our lives. But our primary focus should be always on God and being peacemakers.
When the Covid pandemic hit and a Bible study I was in was still meeting we were discussing our fears and such. The group leader proclaimed, “I believe God is sending us this pandemic as punishment for what we have done to the environment.” I’m sure that just caused everyone reading this to divide into camps. Now, I love the environment but I’m not an “environmental activist.” And that statement didn’t sit well with me. But instead of going on the attack I kept my mouth shut for once realizing that nothing I might say would change her mind or be helpful.
We seem to have evolved into a society where our opinions absolutely must be heard and must be accepted or else we are prepared to judge our “adversary” in all manner of ways. And when this happens within a Christian group, I can tell you one thing for sure, Satan is quite happy.
This quote by AW Tozer is a bit long but he handles this issue very well:
One thing must be kept in mind: We Christians are Christians first and everything else after that. Our first allegiance is to the kingdom of God. Our citizenship is in heaven. We are grateful for political freedom. We thank God for democracy as a way of life. But we never forget that we are sons of God and citizens of another city whose builder and maker is God. For this reason, we must not identify the gospel with any political system or make Christianity to be synonymous with any form of government, however noble. Christ stands alone, above and outside of every ideology devised by man. He does not join any of our parties or take sides with any of our great men except as they may come over on His side and try to follow Him in righteousness and true holiness. Then He is for them, but only as individuals, never as leaders of some political faction. The true Christian will be loyal to his country and obedient to those in authority, but he will never fall into the error of confusing his own national culture with Christianity. Christianity is bigger than any country, loftier than any civilization, broader than any human ideology.
I’ll be honest, I’ve really struggled with this issue for the last few years. I want to live in God’s peace but I also am a lover of freedom and America. For the last few months each time I work myself up to being outraged over some issue I’ve turned to God. I remind myself that He is ultimately in charge. I remind myself that my job, as a Christian, is to share His Word and live faithfully by it. That means showing grace and compassion. It also means “allowing” God to handle everything until He tells me He needs me to do my part.
When we truly desire to be peacemakers and have Christian solidarity as a goal, we change our conversations and words. Instead of sending around an inflammatory news article or Facebook post to our Bible study group and letting it drop like a bomb, we should share with them the struggle we have with the issue and where we see God in it.
The apostle Paul dealt with strife amongst some of the churches. Because let’s face it, our churches are just made up of people. People with varying points of view and opinions.
I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:2-6
We should not be “waging war” like the world does. Our fight should not be with each other – working to destroy one another’s faith. We need to turn our focus back on to God and help our brethren to do the same.
My dear brothers and sisters,
take note of this: Everyone
should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to
become angry.James 1:19
A prayer to speak only when needed
LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words. They flow freely from my mouth without filters. At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me. James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship. And I want to be on the right course with you, God. Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder. But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
At my first professional job after graduating from college, I found myself in a new position in which the company heads wanted me to help get the entire company on a new course. I was only 23 years old and immature in many ways. The job entailed me meeting with the directors of each division of the company and educating them and guiding them through this new direction. One particular gentleman was one of those types that doesn’t say much in meetings. He needed to ruminate a while – go take a walk and a “secret” smoke – and then give his input. He made me very uncomfortable.
After I would bring up a topic and give my input we would sit in silence. That is, until I couldn’t bear it anymore and then I would start babbling. And the more I babbled the deeper, as they say, into the weeds I would get.
Avoid godless chatter, because
those who indulge in it will
become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:16
When we feel the need to fill empty spaces with words we can find ourselves making promises we can’t meet, contradicting ourselves, confusing the issue, giving bad advice, or revealing more than we should. I found myself doing all of these things in those meetings until one day a friend gave me the good advice to stop talking and let the man catch up.
You would think that lesson alone would’ve trained me in the art of being ok with silence but it hasn’t. Just the other day I had to apologize to someone for interrupting her while she was sharing a difficult issue. One of my walking buddies, with whom I have a very trusting relationship, has taken to saying, “That isn’t helpful for me right now,” when I am talking at her too much.
The root of this babbling seems to stem from a need to make sure people know my opinion. So many of us want to make sure we are “heard.” When in actuality God places more importance on the kindness of listening.
I am getting better at this thing called silence. My prayer life now includes the request of God to help me keep my mouth shut when I need to and speak only when I need to. I have a feeling I’ll have that as part of my prayers for a long time. Until I get it right, my ship will tack back and forth a bit until I can get it to smooth sailing.
If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!