One of the things we do most is talk. It is even said that women talk twice as much as men. Ha! Well, this is not always a good thing. There are too many times that I have criticized “in love” the outfit my daughter chose to wear, or made a comment to my husband without giving thought to his feelings. I have lashed out in anger and frustration to my 5 year old when the whining has gotten out of control, and I have spoken without compassion when one my kids hurt themselves. Not only are these things sin, they are counter productive in leading them to God and showing them the love and beauty of Jesus. James tells us that the tongue is hard to tame (James 3), and perhaps what makes taming the tongue so difficult is that it often requires remaining silent.
But it’s not only towards people that I need to learn quietness, but also towards God.
Quietness Towards God
Be still, and know that I am God.
God is always good, right? We say that he only does what is right and just, but our words will betray the state of our hearts. When things gets tough, when life is frustrating or confusing, the words we use towards God show what we really believe.
It is one thing to ask God for answers when the questions are coupled with humility. It is good to pour out our hearts to God with words and tears, but we are also called to submit and trust the Lord. We shouldn’t argue with God or talk back to him because circumstances are difficult, or the days are uncertain.
Quietness toward God is rooted in a meek spirit that submissively trusts the Lord. “When the events of Providence are grievous and afflictive, displeasing to sense and crossing our secular interests, meekness not only quiets us under them, but reconciles us to them; and enables us not only to bear, but to receive evil as well as good at the hand of the Lord” (Matthew Henry, Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit)
Do we have a right to argue with our sovereign Lord? Who has reason to talk back to God who is fair and just, full of mercy and grace.
Quietness Towards Man
There are times when we must speak. We are called to share the good news of the gospel with whomever will listen. We must use our voice for encouragement and also, at times, for rebuke. But there are many times when we should remain quiet.
We need to be careful that not every thought or feeling turns into words.
God has given us two ears, but one tongue, to show that we should be swift to hear, but slow to speak. God has set a double fence before the tongue, the teeth and the lips, to teach us to be wary that we offend not with our tongue.
- Thomas Watson
Words are dangerous because they can change a person’s life. When I was younger I needed braces and I overheard the orthodontist telling my mother that my mouth looked like the mouth of horse. I have never forgotten those words. Though my teeth have been fixed I still feel a bit self-conscious.
Word are powerful. They can wound or heal. They can convey love or hate. They can be used by the Holy Spirit to drive someone to Jesus and they can be used to cause someone to take their life.
We are can use words to honor the Lord and do right, but to avoid using words wrongly we will often need to remain silent.
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking,but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19
Quietness, like mercy, is twice blessed: it blesses him who is quiet, and it blesses the man's friends and neighbors. Talk is good in its way. "There is a time to speak," but there is also "a time to be silent," and in silence many of life's sweetest blessings come.
- JR Miller
I pray that God would teach me the gift of silence especially if I don’t have anything kind, helpful, or beautiful to say.