The Power of Silence
“Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.” – 2 Timothy 2: 23-24
Pop-culture is a fascinating phenomenon, where a cacophony of provocative ideas, mindless amusements, gratuitous filth, and unabashed fun tussle over each other like lobsters in a tank. And if pop-culture is a high-speed locomotive chugging through the heart of our culture, then the internet is the burning coal that fuels the engine. For every blockbuster movie, chart-topping book, or shocking television episode that airs, an outpouring of varied—and often heated—opinions soon follow. Such is the nature of pop-culture. A problem arises, however, when these tendencies seep into the Church and we begin acting in a similar manner toward more serious realities.
The compulsion to add immediate commentary to every trending topic, Facebook post, and disagreeable comment can have destructive results. In lieu of troubling cultural shifts, the Church is right to declare “we won’t stay silent anymore!” But let’s not forget that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Eccles. 3:7). Christians must speak loud and clear against injustice and in defense of the voiceless, but there are other times and situations when silence speaks louder than shouting and a lack-of-words communicates clearer than any lengthy discourse.
Be careful not to mistake quantity of words for quality of speech. A hyperactive tongue is a perilous force. Knee-jerk reactions are rarely fully-formulated or elegantly stated, and are typically birthed out of emotion or anger rather than prayerful reflection. The Bible cautions: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Prov. 10:19). In want of that coveted “final word,” constructive discussions are often dragged into that dark abyss of resentment, name-calling, and hurt-feelings. Likewise, that Facebook comment-box can seduce even the strongest-willed person to post “just one more comment,” and when unkindness is directed toward us, its human nature to return blows instead of our other cheek.
We must be vigilant, for instead of honest dialogue about God and Truth, trenches can be dug, bombs lobbed, and bridges burned. Is it possible that in our enthusiasm to defend biblical teaching, our words and demeanor fail to resemble the very God about whom the Bible is written? Today, with prayer and humility, ask God for the wisdom to discern when to speak up and when to stay silent. An unbelieving world doesn’t need to hear every Christian opinion, but they do desperately need to encounter our Christ.
By Daniel Blackaby