“Our urge to speak is often rooted in an inflated view of our own opinions.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 2, 2021
Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Proverbs 17:28, NIV
As I write these words, I find myself suffering from my annual bout of laryngitis, rendering my voice useless and my parental abilities severely diminished. It is quite difficult to guide and direct several young children when your voice is stuck on the sidelines! Rather than allowing myself to fall into frustration or annoyance over this fact, today I am choosing to instead reflect upon another reality presented to me by this situation: I use my voice a lot!
In this moment, I am reminded of the famous words of the 5th Century Desert Father, Abba Arsenius the Great: “I have often regretted the words I have spoken, but I have never regretted my silence.” How true these words are! Surely we can all think of countless times in which our words have gotten us into trouble, contributing to confusion or adding fuel to the fire of anger, bitterness, or disappointment. Far too often we ignore wisdom’s invitation to hold our tongue, to resist the urge to vocalize our opinion or tear someone down in order to secure our own reputation and social standing.
Our urge to speak is often rooted in an inflated view of our own opinions. We are convinced that others need to hear what we have to say, that they couldn’t possibly know what we know, appreciate what we appreciate, or love what we love. Yet here’s a question worthy of consideration today: who is silenced by our insistence upon speaking?
A willingness to refrain from speech creates space, inviting others to step into the room that you vacate when you hold your tongue. In this way, silence is closely linked to humility. Humility values the voice and insight of others and actively chooses to welcome and seek out their wisdom and knowledge. And most importantly, our silence invites not only horizontal input from other men and women, but it is the invitation for Wisdom to speak, for us to quiet our lives in order to hear the still, small voice of the Lord (1 Kings 19:11–13). And so, choose today to embrace the gift of silence as the path of humility towards others, and openness to the guiding hand of God.
Father, help us to embrace the gift of silence, showing our love for others and for you as we do, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Take time today to notice how quick you are to speak or offer your own opinion. Intentionally cultivate a posture of silence, learning to listen first, and speak second.
Paul Zach: God is the Friend of Silence
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