Monday, February 12, 2018

Learning When to “Be Silent”

Ecclesiastes 3:7-8 says there is a “time to be silent and a time to speak.”

I truly believe that is a part of WISDOM…knowing when to speak and when to be silent.

Jesus knew. There was an account in Matthew where he was literally turning over tables in the temple. But by and large most of the accounts we read about his time on this earth depict his calm, loving, merciful, slow to speak, kind, gentle nature. Not WEAK. He knew when to stand up and when to be quiet. There is a huge difference in gentleness and weakness, even though today’s society seems to deem those two as interchangeable. In fact, I think the complete opposite is true (for me, anyway)…it takes great STRENGTH to guard one’s tongue & have the self-control to be quiet. It takes maturity to be able to seek the Lord’s wisdom and know when it’s appropriate to speak up and when it’s best to just zip it.

1 Peter 3:4 calls us ladies to have a “gentle & quiet spirit.” In a day in time where women are celebrated for loudly voicing every opinion and “telling it like it is,” a woman who knows when to keep her mouth shut is a rare breed...but a total GEM. Wouldn’t you agree? We think the adjective “meek” is a condescending and derogatory, when the Bible tells us that’s a characteristic we should be striving to exemplify. Lots of women don’t like that. It feels restrictive, but really, that’s nothing more than rebellion against authority (and sometimes we don’t even recognize the enemy has us believing that lie)…”Nobody’s going to tell ME what to say, when to say it, how to say it!”

Before everyone gets their panties all in a wad, hear me out. I’m not saying we are supposed to never talk, be totally silent, be door mats, not have an opinion, and not stand up for what is right. I am simply suggesting that we…(ahem, I)…learn to seek the Lord before speaking. That’s wisdom. There are times it would serve us (and those around us) far better if we could just keep our mouths shut.

This is for sure an area I am growing in.

Honestly, most men I know do NOT like to be around women who talk way too much, run their mouths, gossip , lie, nag, etc. It is not attractive.

Jonathan highly values and respects my opinion, and we have a lot of great conversation. But I know there have been times where me running my mouth has put us in situations that could have been avoided if I had just been quiet.

So, I have a little story. The most recent example I have of a time I actually kept my mouth shut (when I REALLY wanted to say something)...actually, I truly believe the Lord zipped my lips. Anyway, it happened over Christmas break. My mom and I took my three boys to see “The Star.” It was Kade’s first movie…and just SO cute! It’s a kid’s movie about the birth of Jesus. We had the baby with us (who slept the whole time), but we wanted to sit near the end of the row so we could get up quickly if one of them needed to use the restroom or if the baby started fussing. There weren’t a lot of empty seats left, so it was either in front of some people who had their feet on the back of the seats we were going to sit in, or the VERY front rows (that just hurt your neck!). We sat down, and the lady sitting behind my mom huffed, puffed, and I kid you not…put her feet on my mom’s hair. My mom didn’t say anything, but she turned around to see what was pulling her hair. The lady threw a legit tantrum. She got up, slung her purse, and stomped to the other end of the row- being super nasty, saying ugly things, and literally huffing and puffing like a three year old who didn’t get her way. I fully expected to turn around and see a bratty teenager, but instead looked into the eyes of a grown adult woman who was apparently so inconvenienced by our choice of seats and not being able to put her feet on the back of the chair in front of her that she had to cause a scene. I am not kidding you when I tell you that the Holy Spirit zipped my lips. I am not a super confrontational person AT ALL, but I couldn’t believe she was being so disrespectful and absurd and I desperately wanted to call her on her crap. I fumed through most of the movie. I so badly wanted to ask her what her problem was, but I knew my boys didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t want them seeing their mama getting into confrontation with a stranger. (Ever, but especially in a kids’ movie about the birth of baby Jesus. I mean, seriously lady?!? Plus, they were totally oblivious to her outburst, so all they would see was me instigating conflict. I had to consider their perspective.)

We walked out to the car at the same time, and I watched her get into her car. Proudly reppin a local church’s sticker on the back of her vehicle. I wanted again to knock on her window. Just to tell her how disappointed I was in her behavior. Or write her pastor. (Lame, maybe. But I just could not get over it! I’m sure part of it was just feeling defensive of my 65 year old mom, who happens to be one of the most generous, AMAZING women on the entire planet, and I really did not like seeing her being disrespected.) I don’t expect perfection, and I know people have bad days. And no, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But she’s obviously claiming to be a believer coming to a movie like that and rockin a church sticker on her car. Instead, I thought, how would Jesus handle this? (Sometimes I feel like we really need the WWJD bracelets to come back!) I know I don’t have a relationship with that lady since she was a complete stranger. I don’t know her situation or her circumstances or what she might have been going through. And I know it wouldn’t be received as coming from a place of love & correction since she doesn’t know me, so, I stayed silent and I prayed for her. That was it.

I don’t say that because I think I’m awesome for not saying anything. Because for that one story, of that ONE time I actually kept my mouth shut, I have about a million more examples of times I spoke when I shouldn’t have. And I’ve had to deal with unintended consequences of saying something I shouldn’t have.

That’s one of the many reasons I am so thankful that God is gracious and merciful and forgives. But even more than that, I am thankful for the Word of God that gives us some clarity and times we are commanded to be silent. NOT because he’s trying to be restrictive, but because he is trying to protect us. Here are a few times the Scriptures say to be silent. (I’m sure there are more, but here are a few good ones we can remember.)

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I wrote that out and posted it next to my refrigerator so I can see it daily.

God tells us in James that the Lord freely gives wisdom to whoever asks for it. It’s as simple as creating a new habit. Retraining ourselves to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and seek the Lord before responding. (It doesn’t have to be a 15 minute prayer…and it can be as simple as a few times throughout the day asking the Lord to guard your tongue.)

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Ephesians 4:29 is a powerful verse. Memorize it, hide it in your heart, and let it be a guide for the words that you allow to come out of your mouth. Everything you say falls into either one of two categories…it is bringing LIFE or DEATH.
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Here’s my prayer for us, ladies…

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Samantha said...

I needed this today! Thank you!

Lauren said...

Definitely needed this wisdom today, thank you!!!

Corinna said...

This post is fantastic, thank you Danielle! I came across a verse in my study the other day that TOTALLY scared the FAR out of me! "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37, ESV)
When I saw this issue through the truth that I will have to come before God and answer for EVERY careless word, it sent shivers down my spine. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you! <3