“…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison: James 3:2,8
Many times when you’re in an aggressive mood and are tempted to rain brimstone and fire, the often still unheeded voice bids you “be still” and “hold back” or “bridle your tongue”; but it takes a vessel that’s surrendered to the Potter and has been exercised towards that frequency to heed the voice, knowing full well that sowing into the spirit shall of the same reap life and sowing to the flesh shall of same reap corruption.
Pierre Teilhard de Char-din said: “Man is a spiritual being having a physical experience; not a physical being having a spiritual experience;” and that resonates deeply with my very foundation because it’s nothing but the Truth but the issue often is that majority of us practise and live the opposite, whether consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or not deliberately and it’s an endless and daily lifestyle.
The ability to keep silent in the face of odds is a great skill that everyone who seeks to live in peace with all men must hone; it’s the power to exhibit true tolerance in any capacity whatsoever and the strength to overcome any battle whatsoever. You may not last truly long and enjoy overall total bliss with an absence of the resource of silence.
Here are moments when you may need to observe and exercise silence:
- Be silent in the heat of anger: Ephesians 4:26
°Anything you say in anger cannot be but offensive, whether you’re right or wrong. In a fit of anger, endeavour to hold back and either walk away, excuse yourself or seal your lips. You’d be sacrificing that anger to escape an irreparable damage. “Be angry but sin not;” how possible can this be? One huge way not to sin when you’re angry is to be quiet.
- Be silent when you don’t have all the facts: Proverbs 18:13
°We are wont to say things that we cannot substantiate. It’s the nature of fallen man and an uncultured mind. You can avoid this totally. Humility can afford you the possibility if you’re tempted or driven towards self-aggrandizement to say things you can’t substantiate when the chips are down. Stay away from such and be humble enough to admit that you don’t have all the facts. It would save you present and future trouble.
- Be silent when you haven’t verified the story: Deuteronomy 17:6
°Spreading or sharing an unverified story the way it has characterized communication especially through social media platforms is one of the highest forms of ignorance openly displayed today, yet we know it not. Accessing and analyzing information is a great skill that anyone who wishes to stay relevant in the world of impact must hone continuously. Ronald Reagan is credited with the statement: “Trust but verify.” That short statement speaks volumes and living to apply it is a more voluminous sacrifice. It’s a price to pay.
- Be silent if your words will offend a weaker person: 1 Corinthians 8:11
°Always let your liberty come with limits and observe such limits as often as you can. Do not use your liberty to stumble others who may not know as much as you do. Do you know that a field sown with any crop is not weeded in its early stages and even when it has to be, it is to be done with specific tools? Self-control is the key here. If someone said something offensive when you were a nymph, you’d probably have been nipped in the bud.
- Be silent when it is time to listen: James 1:19
°We’re admonished to be swift to hear [listen], slow to speak and slow to wrath because effective listening is listening to learn; not to respond. There is a time for everything. The value of listening is that even when you don’t know what to say, by listening to the other person, you can from what they say, answer them. You don’t listen with your mouth open. What you already know lives with and in you but you have to listen to someone to learn from them. Now that calls for discipline.
- Be silent when you are tempted to make light of holy things: Ecclesiastes 5:2
° What is a holy thing? This is the first hurdle to cross here because your ignorance of what is holy is what puts you in bondage. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Many of us are guilty of this and we fall short of required expectations. Due to this ignorance, some have called Satan God and vice versa. Is it not better to be silent when you don’t know rather than being sincerely wrong?
- Be silent when you are tempted to joke about sin: Proverbs 14:9
° Being incontinent is one of man’s greatest weaknesses. The ability to exhibit this sort of self-control is equal to being able to control one’s spirit in the day of adversity. Joking about sin is as good as opening the door to temptation; not that you are tempted by sin but that you actually led yourself into temptation and by extension negatively influence others to same damnable extremes. Bridle your tongue. It’s a great virtue.
- Be silent if you would be ashamed of your words later: Ecclesiastes 5:6
° In other words, watch what you say; don’t be hasty to speak things. The only way not to regret your words or to be ashamed of your own words is to be cautious and think before you speak. Within these interstices, you’d exercise much silence and be saved future embarrassment. Sometimes you need to read about the empty and vain words of politicians especially during campaigns. It’s usually a show of shame. But you are not like politicians who are seemingly programmed to say things they do not mean.
- Be silent if your words would convey the wrong impression: Proverbs 17:27
° If you have an inkling that you may be misunderstood or wrongly quoted, it’s an intuition you may not want to disregard. Listen to your inner voice but this is an issue of higher consciousness which requires self-development. It’s an uncommon quality which only a very few possess; a knowing that affords you this. The moment people leave you with a wrong impression, it’s difficult to change, especially if it’s their first time of meeting you.
- Be silent if the issue is none of your business: Proverbs 14:10
° Do not be a busy body in other men’s matters. Discipline yourself as much as and as often as you should. Do not be nosey unless your opinion is expressly sought and you have something meaningful to contribute; otherwise, do stay off. This is both for self-respect and otherwise. You must not negotiate this position.
- Be silent when you are tempted to tell an outright lie: Proverbs 4:24
° In the uttering of many words are lies. Be careful about being a talkative. Endeavour to take the position of being taciturn and eschew lies thereby. Always remember that whatever lies you tell would someday be exposed. Seal your lips rather than utter guile and deceitful words. When men have proved you a liar, your credibility is in danger.
- Be silent if your words will damage someone else’s reputation: Proverbs 16:27
° This is quite common these days. The uninformed and undisciplined mind is given to much slander and not only that, they take pride in destroying other people and their influence especially by running them down. They slander others. Why not shut your mouth instead. Must you speak? Unknown to you, you are exactly what you give out to others.
- Be silent if your words will damage a friendship: Proverbs 16:28
° Friendship is a bond between two and should be observed but a talebearer separates friends because his often unsolicited words put spanner in the works of friendship. You don’t want to be that; do you? You should be seen as one whose words, statements or actions would strengthen friendships and relationships; not weaken and separate.
- Be silent when you are feeling critical: James 3:9
° Some or most times, people see you as being unnecessarily critical of others; and their fear of criticism will be magnified because of what you have said. The fear of criticism is one of the greatest fears plaguing man and one huge hindrance between many and their life goals. It’s not good to be a carrier of such a weapon that causes others nightmare.
- Be silent if you can’t say it without screaming it: Proverbs 15:1
° Screaming communicates a different emotion outside the real intention because it represents an action taken in anger. Gentleness is mark of calm and suggests love although you may need to scream men out of the way of peril or scream as an alarm out of danger. But under normal circumstances, learn to exhibit “a soft answer turns away wrath” by gently communicating your thoughts and when you cannot be gentle about it, keep quiet. It saves you more.
- Be silent if your words will be a poor reflection of the Lord or your friends and family: 2 Corinthians 6:3
° By your words you shall both be condemned and/or justified. Your words are you and the manifestation of your thoughts and inner being. Your words reflect you and all that you represent. Therefore, it is essential that your words be seasoned with salt so you don’t bring reproach on yourself and your tribe, community or immediate or nuclear family. Where you sense that your words may be a misrepresentation of laudable ideals, hold them back. Your silence would be celebrated rather than your words suggest vilification.
- Be silent if you may have to eat your words later: Proverbs 18:21 Is there any difference between eating your words and being ashamed of them later? I guess so. Having to eat your words later has to do with admitting that what you had said what wrong; and/or retracting or taking back what you had hitherto avowed or openly confessed to be a precept or your inspired standard; while being ashamed of your words means feeling embarrassed or full of regrets for your utterances. Neither of both is pleasant anyway and calls for restraint and caution.
- Be silent if you have already said it more than one time: Proverbs 19:13b
° This actually depends on the situation you’re confronted with because sometimes iterations or repetitions are great ways of learning and attaining perfection. If we keep reminding people of what they need to do and we keep doing them, it will work for mastery. The other side of this is the use of clichés, when your words bore your listeners or when you don’t have the luxury of time; then you may be required to be quiet rather than iterate or repeat yourself. Silence is thus required.
- Be silent when you are tempted to flatter a wicked person: Proverbs 24:24
° Flattery is a fruit of deceit. To be deceived shows you have first deceived yourself. The rich suffer in two key areas: they hardly are given gifts because people perceive they have more than enough; and they are rarely told the truth by many hangers on who surround them because they don’t wish them angry and so deny them the favours they seek. Most men feed them with what they like to hear. Many sing praises of evil men, especially those who feed from the crumbs that fall from their tables. The political arena is replete with this. The wicked feed and prosper on flattery; through flattery they access motivation and inspiration; but be sure you are not the source of these to them. Rather, be mute.
- Be silent when you are supposed to be working instead: Proverbs14:23 Endeavour not to talk your work and productive time away. Manage your time productively and stay focused on activities that align with and work for the attainment of same. When you are manifesting anything, just concentrate on ensuring it gets out and only through that, let it be made known; not through your saying it for it may never see the light of day if you do that.
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” Proverbs 21:23Your ability to keep your mouth from uttering guile and all manner of errors, speaking only the desired as led by the Divine, though men condemn you, would deem you perfect because if you are able to attain this, you are a spotless being. If you hurt your foot or any part of your body to the point of bleeding, you shall soon be on the way to heal but if the words from your lips offend, they heal hardly because words have life being spirit and they go away hardly.
Being silent when you should be silent is living a life in the spirit and walking in the spirit. Stay inspired. Stay in [spirit].
NOTE: Someone shared these 20 headings and scriptures “when to be silent” with me and it thrilled me to the point of inspiration that I had to compose and develop the body [content] for each. I hope you enjoyed reading it.