03 Feb The Power of Silence
Believe me, I am a great practitioner of Proverbs 17.28. Often times, I’ve tested it and found it to be precisely true – even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
Anyone, especially those of you who are extroverts by nature would agree with me that silence is often suffocating. And should you take Ecclesiastes 3.7 seriously then silence can be volcanic for Solomon says, there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. As experience would tell some of you, when the wife is fuming in the kitchen with a hot ladle in her hand it is a time for you to shut up.
When you find an unbelieving friend in pursuit of life’s meaning it is the time for you to open up about Jesus. Yet, we do quite the opposite – at the door of evangelism we shut up and at the face of argument we become active debaters. Perhaps, Solomon should have written an Idiot’s Guide to when to Shut Up as a sequel to Ecclesiastes. That book would likely outsell J.K Rowling and Agatha Christie put together. In the absence of such a guide detailing when to be silent, let us take the Scriptures as our guide and see when they recommend silence.
At the end of a series of commandments in Deuteronomy 27.9 is found this rather surprising verse – Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God. It gives the sense that if you belong to God you need to listen. Habakkuk in 2.20 putsforth this beautifully – The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. This aspect of being silent and listening is an almost lost art in believers – Christian gatherings have become more noise and less substance – Oh yea! Seldom do people come with the mindset, “what is God going to talk to me today?” You better be silent and listen to Him when in God’s presence.
David writes this in Psalms 4.4 – when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. That is weird – on bed? We ought to question, why would someone switch off the lights, get on the bed and start talking? No – David is referring to our thoughts here. Most young men and women and perhaps older ones too have a problem with closed doors and dark rooms – it is not claustrophobia, but fantasizing – and not just the sexual kind of fantasizing.
You would often find a young man get onto bed at ten in the night but lay awake until after midnight fantasizing about anything and everything under the sun – sometimes planning and scheming. Sadly, Micah 2.1 says, Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds. Rather according to David on the bed is a time to shut off those thoughts of anger, jealousy or passion and open yourself to search your hearts. It is a time to rectify your past but not to plot your future.
The classic example of a man being silent is displayed in Jesus’ life. Isaiah had long before prophesied in 53.7 that “as sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Both Matthew and Mark record the beginning of the fulfilment of this prophecy when they mention, “But Jesus remained silent” in Matthew 26.63 and Mark 14.61. No one questioned Jesus why he remained silent, but I bet the answer would’ve been “for this reason I have been sent”. When you know that by breaking your silence you would potentially mess up your mission it is better to be silent rather than retort. For our prayer and purpose always should be, “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.
If there is power in speech, depending on the situation there is power in silence too. Draw from this power in the presence of God, on bed and in ministry and remember that an earthquake may shatter the earth, a storm may hit everything on it but God is always in the silence that ensues after all he is a God who said, be still and know that I am God.
Pradeep works as an Insights Director at IMRB International in Chennai and writes in his free time. His blogs can be followed at http://thesprintingmind.blogspot.in/