Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
This past Sunday at Church in Bethesda we started the month’s series of exploring the big themes of scripture that support civility, and this past weekend we talked about the theme of “I need to shut my mouth!” How many times does something strike us the wrong way, and a harsh or even inaccurate retort is flying before we really think things through? Are you able to see something on Facebook you don’t like and just scroll on? Can I keep my mouth shut when it really doesn’t need to be open?
The first half of the verse is challenging for a pastor, or any blogger or pundit for that matter. What? Stop multiplying words? Words are our tools! Words are an amazing gift! Our species rocks the world of words! But, still the proverb warns us of thinking that more and more words are what we need. Sometimes we need silence. The prudent know this.
pru·dent 1. acting with or showing care and thought for the future.
So here’s how I break it down, the return on investing in some quiet…
Shutting my mouth buys me time…
~ to think and reflect. I may even think of a clarifying question that gets us a lot further in our dialogue than a pointed reply.
~ to listen. The old saying is that “God gave us one mouth and two ears, so be quiet and listen!”
~ to forgive. Too much is said too soon, too loudly and too wrongly, because I want to punish and retort more than I want to forgive and extend grace.
~ to choose what I will eventually say. If given a chance, on almost any day, how much of what we say would we say differently? If only we had a 10 second delay on our speech, hmmmm?
~ to stop a fight before it even gets started. That’s choice peacemaker stuff right there!
~ to stop a fight after it gets started by breaking the cycle. Because someone has to break that cycle of responses and one-uppers. Again, peacemaking instead of peacebreaking.
Developing the art of shutting my mouth is not saying that words aren’t important or valuable, but in truth, it’s living like my words actually are important and valuable. It comes down to being aware of my words. Have I given myself time to make sure that my words are going to support the future instead of killing it before it has a chance to happen? If I go quiet on you, don’t worry… I’m probably just trying to buy myself the time I need to really value you and the words I’ll eventually say.
Wise words from Romans 14:22
“So whatever you believe about these things
keep between yourself and God.”
Why don’t we ever hear more sermons on such a great idea? Why don’t I preach on it more? There’s a truth loose in the world and it goes something like this… “You don’t need to hear my views on everything, or vice versa.” Please, Mr. Robertson, enough.
Paul has struggled through a very sticky situation in his Roman letter. It’s a moral, ethical and spiritual question with huge impact on the civil, secular, communal and daily lives of believers. Should a believer eat food that is consecrated to another god? And if so, or if not, to what lengths do they go to discover if it has been consecrated or not? The whole thing has very little meaning to many Christians today, but we do have our own big questions, moral questions, ethical questions, questions that impact our daily lives. And we spend a lot of time expressing opinions, many of which are hurtful and uncharitable.
Paul’s solution? In part, silence. Respectful. Silence. Quiet time with God.
I don’t question Mr. Robertson’s right to hold views on the causality of earthquakes or the relationship between what we call natural disasters and the impact of spiritual powers in the world. I just wish he’d keep most them to himself. Instead, he heaps blame and shame on an already suffering, impoverished and destitute population. Not what I define as a “Charitable Act.”
I could go on, but that’s pretty much it.
Lord God, in your mercy,
hear our prayers and pour out your peace,
hope and blessing on the people of Haiti.