There is a common phrase that silence is golden, and we know how much value our mums or aunties attached to their gold or even gold-plated jewellery. In similar fashion, silence is valuable. My friend shared some times when you need to be silent with me and I thought I’d share as I found them useful. I’ve added my comments on the side.
1. When you’re angry (Prov 14:17): This is so true. All kinds of stuff are brought to the fore in moments of anger. You can’t take back what you’ve said, so grab some ice tea, cool off and come back to the matter at a later time.
2. When you lack all the facts (Prov 18:13): In Law, there’s no ruling until all facts have been verified, because it could be unfair to one party if his side has not been heard. It is best to clarify before jumping to conclusions.
3. When you haven’t heard the other side of the story (Deut 17:6): Because half the story is not the full story and your judgment on part of the story may be wrong. At least hear the full story, then see if what you would have said is still valid.
4. If your words will offend a weaker person (1 Cor 8:11): You don’t want to be that person whose comment changes the facial expressions of everyone in the room, because you’ve spoken for a bit too long. That makes things awkward, especially because most people don’t like the confrontational style of resolution. So your words may be offensive but then no one wants to be the one to address the elephant in the room.
5. When it is time to listen (Prov 13:1): Listening is an intentional act. It takes a lot to give your full attention without interrupting or asking questions. The speaker feels heard when you listen in silence, and sometimes might feel so much better just knowing they’ve unburdened without being interrupted.
6. When tempted to make light of holy things (Eccl 5:2): I think this applies to every religion, if something is said to be holy, sacred, sanctified, it’s better not to mess around with it. Whether it’s traditional worship or Buddhism, it’s wise to avoid making light of it.
7. When tempted to joke about sin (Prov 14:9): Similar to the preceding point, it’s best not to make jokes about sin, or the people involved. If the conversation is not going to be beneficial, it is best to be silent.
8. If you will later be ashamed of your words (Prov 8:8): If you’ll wish you hadn’t said it later, then maybe you should hold your tongue. Self-control comes into play here because sometimes we know that we might be ashamed later but just to feel a certain way or make someone feel a certain way, we go ahead with the words we know we ought not to say.
9. If your words will convey the wrong impression (Prov 17:27): Where your point is ‘A’, for instance and your words might make it seem like it’s ‘G’, you should rephrase or be silent. Impressions stay a while and it is better not to give any impression than to give a wrong one.
10. If the issue is none of your business (Prov 14:10): This is very straight forward. Drinking water and minding your business has been said (by no particular individual) to be the key to a good life. Try it today. 😊
11. When tempted to lie (Eph 4:25, Prov 4:24): Because lying is false truth and you should tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
12. If your words will damage someone’s reputation (Eph 4:29, Prov 16:27): This is simple, the golden rule says ‘do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.’ Would you like someone else to damage your reputation? Selah
13. If your words will damage friendship (Prov 16:28): Friendships are hard to find and harder to keep. Do you really want to lose the ones you have because of a few words?
14. When you’re feeling critical (Eph 3:9): No one likes the feeling of being judged or criticised, so if this is all you have to offer at a particular time, then it’s a good time to be quiet.
15. If you cannot speak without yelling (Prov 25:28, Prov 15:1): My parents told me how they agreed early in their marriage not to yell at each other since none of them was deaf, and I’ve never forgotten it. If you feel like yelling, shout at the wall or the mirror, or come back when you’re feeling calmer. You’re better able to articulate your thoughts when you’re composed, instead of in anger. There’s no rule that says you must settle disputes in the heat of anger. Take some time to cool off, gather your thoughts and then have a conversation.
16. If your words will be a poor reflection of God (1 Peter 2:21-23): As an ambassador of Christ, you are to speak as He would. If you’re not sure what to say, or not feeling like you can fully represent Him at a particular time, just say nothing. No one will know what you could have said, but if you do speak, everyone knows your thoughts and you can’t take back your words. If it’s not pleasing to God, don’t say it.
17. If you would have to eat your words later (Prov 18:21): Eating your own words is bitter. Don’t do it!
18. If you have already said it more than one time (Prov 19:13): Refer to deafness point in no 15 above.
19. When you’re tempted to flatter a wicked person (Prov 24:24): By flattering, you’re encouraging. Encouragement provides affirmation, energy and strength that assures a person that he is doing well. Imagine this wickedness gets to you or your family because you couldn’t keep your words in? Encourage small businesses, encourage discouraged people, but please don’t encourage the wicked.
20. When you are tired or hungry: A hungry man is an angry man and he can say all sorts of things. It’s just your stomach and you don’t mean most of what you say. Take a warm shower, dinner will soon be ready.
I think I should add that you don’t have to ‘win’ every time and keeping your cool or being silent when you’re upset or have been vexed is not a sign of weakness, even when you have the perfect response for the annoying party. Silence is golden. Don’t stress your vocal cords.
If you know any other times you think should be on this list, please share in the comments. 💝