Christians – We Have the Right to Remain Silent

We have the right to remain silent –and it just may be time to exercise it.

Peter the Apostle warned us to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” He didn’t, however, say that Christians need to have an answer for everything. This nuance is lost on many.

Words fly, in fact, these days, they swarm! Around here, winter moths plague us by the thousands. Like snowflakes fluttering up from the ground, drawn to white houses, walls, or cars, a person has to bat his way through them to get anywhere at night. It’s like that with words in this information age. They flock like moths and come at us from the moment we wake to the time we drop off to sleep. They’re everywhere.

I love words, of course. I’m a woman of words. Love to read them, write them, hear them, sing them, type them, absorb them, and live them out. But, like anything else we love, words can become an idol. When we’ve come to rely on words more than we rely on Jesus, it’s time to step into silence. There, we’ll discover that it’s true there is no place where we can flee from God. We find Him in words and we find Him, also, in silence.

Five Times to Silent

  • idolatryWhen words have become our idol – When we find ourselves hoping our words will provide all we need – comfort, wisdom, food, clothes, warmth, self-esteem, fulfillment, riches, acceptance, forgiveness, salvation, nurture, and belonging. When we turn to words to validate our existence. When we cannot bear silence because it ratchets up our fear/anxiety/loneliness/insecurity/loss/sense of failure/inadequacy or lack of love, then, especially then, we must throw ourselves into the silence and ask God to meet us there to remind us He is all we need.
  • When words are a way we to control the world – Words can be weapons, a means of control, battering rams, Trojan horses, flaming arrows, billy clubs, suits of armor, shields, swords, daggers. So look around you. If your loved ones are lying bleeding on the floor, it’s time to wave the white flag of silence. Disarm. Refuse to enter into the sin of self-protection. God is our fortress, He is our deliverer, in Him will we trust – not our ability to rule the world (and others) with words.
  • When words are a substitute – There is a time for words but there are times for other things, too. Some moments call for words but others call for action, presence, shared grief, touch, labor, money, food, service, sacrifice, or grand gestures. To offer words when other actions are required is like sending clowns to entertain a starving child. There are times when words are such an offense, we should have a way to turn the air blue around those who dare speak rather than act or mute themselves.
  • When to speak is to throw one’s pearls before swine – It’s likely that for many of the hundred years Noah spent building the ark, he appealed to those watching (looking on, mocking perhaps) to repent and turn back to God. But at some point, it was time to stop talking and pack up the boat. Jesus preached repentance to all who would hear but before His accusers, He stood silent. When we have told the truth, when we have testified to what we know, when we’ve delivered the message of repentance leading to salvation, there can come a time to stand silent, giving the Spirit room to work. We can stand silently before scorn, hatred, misunderstanding, rebuke, abuse, mocking, and all manner of persecution. The hot air of our speeches does not control the wind.
  • When the Spirit is silent – Jesus did nothing without the Father and so we should do nothing, not even speak or write, without the Spirit of Him who lived in perfect obedience. When the Spirit calls for silence, we can rest in silence, knowing that all words beyond it would be of our own making – like using paper airplanes to land on the moon. So all who speak must also listen. This act, in itself, requires silence, like rests in a musical score.

Let’s not allow the world to pressure us into speaking or into thinking we need to have an answer for everything. Be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have but know there are other times where you have the right to remain silent.

Silent night, holy night – good advice for all seasons.

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