There are times throughout Scripture when believers were instructed not to be silent. Esther’s silence would have meant the destruction of her family. In Luke 19, Jesus said the stones would cry out in praise if his disciples kept quiet. Christians are called to loudly stand up for injustices and praise His name, yet in other instances closed lips are the key to godly wisdom.
Psalm 4:4 (NIV) speaks of silence. “Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent.” The New Living Translation puts it this way: “Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent.” I have my father to thank for my quick wit and gift of sarcasm; it’s in my DNA. For the most part, these characteristics serve me well and I truly love to make people laugh. However, sarcasm, quick wit, and anger are a recipe for disaster. I have an unfortunate ability to wound with my words. My husband, Mark, knows this all too well.
Rather than fighting back with a sharp tongue and wounding my husband’s spirit, I need to meditate in silence. When my words aren’t exactly dripping with honey, they need to stay in my mouth. If I’m not prepared to encourage or edify, I need to keep quiet. Or unload the dishwasher. Or take a walk. Or bake a cake. Then I could fill my mouth with delicious gluten-free cake instead of venomous words.
Psalm 12:3 (NIV) reminds me that silence squashes selfishness. “May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue…” The Contemporary English Version is a bit more graphic, “Won’t you chop off all flattering tongues that brag so loudly?” Turns out that my tongue needed a bit of chopping. Social media became an avenue for me to brag and engage in unproductive flattery. It’s difficult to hold our tongues about how wonderful our children are; we need to be proud of them and brag on them! But for me, the issue isn’t just about taking pride in my children, it’s about the condition of my heart. What am I really saying with every see-how-awesome-my-kid-is status update?