Knowing when to speak and when be silent is a skill all its own. Fact is, we have earned our stripes and often feel the need, no, the burning desire, for someone to “be blessed” by the wisdom we have gained through the experiences we have lived through.
But when is our wisdom not helpful? How do we know if we should open our mouths or put a sock in it?
Rule of thumb…when in doubt, DON’T SPEAK. Zip it. Tape your mouth shut if you have to!
Job, a righteous man was put through trials and his faith was tested. Of course, the wisdom of his family and friends believed he brought the trials on himself through some sort of disobedience. His friends assumed the misery he lived through was because he had done something bad, something dreadfully out of line, to deserve the suffering.
The wisdom of Job’s friends was anything but wise. They shamed him, and begged him to repent. Maybe his friends would have been better friends if they just sat beside him in silence, not trying to solve his problem, or give him advice. Maybe Job just needed the comfort of knowing they were there for him, no matter what – mistakes or no mistakes. Maybe he needed the support of presence instead of an inquisition of his pain.
Job 13:5 says, “If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom!” (HCSB)
Pretty straight forward advice I’d say. Chances are our family and friends know us well enough to know how we will think and respond about a given topic. And if they don’t know, they will probably ask. Are our words needed?
Sometimes our best display of wisdom is when we say nothing. Our greatest wisdom can be revealed when we have the burning desire to intervene, but don’t. Even Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us, “there is a time to be silent and a time to speak.” There is a time to be SILENT.
Knowing we will make mistakes in this area and speak when we should remain silent, and remain silent when we should speak, we need to extend ourselves grace. In doing so, we can then extend grace to those who step over the boundary lines into our lives, and speak to us when we would rather they’d be silent.
Today’s challenge is to pause and consider the past week. How many times have we allowed ourselves the freedom to speak into someone else’s situation – even with the best intentions. Did we overstep? Did we claim our wisdom as supreme and the only choice? Was our wisdom God’s wisdom? Have we asked God if what was burning in our heart to share was something he wanted us to share – or if it was of our own volition?
As mentioned before, when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is, don’t speak. It’s likely another opportunity to speak will present itself if needed- but words cannot be taken back once they are released. Therefore speak wisdom with caution. And know silence is wise.