Silence Is Golden

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecc 3:7b ESV)

Do we really believe that?  I find myself giving my opinion when I should just listen.  I attempt to be wise when I have no business chiming in.  After the fact, I pray God’s grace covers a multitude of sin.

I was reminded of speaking too much over the last few days.  Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc…. anyone even remember MySpace?) allows people to post their struggles and prayer requests.  Although I hate that some people thrive on drama, the benefits are obvious.  I appreciate the opportunity to pray for these people, for their concerns, and for God’s grace, mercy, and compassion.  But all too often, I’m tempted to tell them what they should do.  Sadly, sometimes I offer advice before praying God’s will.

Chances are you fall prey to the same temptation.  I’ve seen it!  Let’s face it: We hate when our families, our friends, and people in general experience pain.  We want to eliminate their pain.  We attempt to “fix” the problem.  Sidenote: I wonder if those around Paul attempted to eliminate Paul’s thorn?  If so, they were disappointed and perhaps even caused even more pain for Paul (Cf. 2 Cor 12).  Remember, God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient.”

Here’s a thought:  You and I see struggles on the surface but not in places close to the heart.  In other words, I can hear someone describing their struggle, but I really don’t know how they feel.  I may have experienced similar struggles, but we’re all different.  And how one struggles may be different from how I struggle – similar experience, different responses.  It’s what makes us unique.  If they want your advice, they’ll ask for it!

For believers, we know the Holy Spirit lives within us.  But we rationalize our counseling before determining what God wants to say through us.  Notice the “our counseling”, not God’s.  Stop being a counselor 24/7!   Surely there are times when God wants us to speak.  We see that again and again throughout Scripture.  But sometimes He wants us to do as Solomon says, recognize the time of silence.  Sometimes God simply wants us to listen and to pray.

Borrowing from the practical letter of James, maybe we should be quick to listen and slow to speak.  Maybe there are times silence really is golden.  Any thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Silence Is Golden”

  1. But if we are in prayer about God sending us “opportunities” to minister, wouldn’t that also include at a moment’s whim? Why would people “shout out” their issues if they didn’t intend for you to try and help – and if anything – wouldn’t they be grateful that you care enough to try and give advice? The other side of this is not saying anything at all – even when prompted.

    Although, I do agree there are those who just over do it – like everything – we should all be discerning of when to speak.

    Different people do have different needs. I remember when my mom passed away; I didn’t want any words of consolation. I don’t remember any of the words but a hug, a smile, someone holding my hand – that I remember. Yet, there are people who feel lost in the void with the death of a loved one and they need those voices.

    Yes, people are different and there is no way of knowing whose needs are what unless you let God lead you – You said it best: Listen and Pray – and then act.

    • Maria, I do believe people “shout out” at times. However, there are times when they just want someone to listen. Through the post, I was trying to make the point that all too often, we’re quick to give advice about another’s life when we have no business doing so. Sometimes, ministry is coming alongside someone and simply praying. That’s where discernment comes in. A time to speak; a time to be silent. In other words, it’s not either/or. It’s both/and. May God give us wisdom! Thanks again for reading.

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