30 Days to Taming Your Tongue - What you say (and don't say) will improve your relationships by Deborah Smith Pegues
Day Thirty - The Silent Tongue
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... a time to be silent and a time to speak - Ecclesiastes 3:1,7
Not all silence is golden. The previous devotions/Bible studies on Taming Your Tongue were to encourage us to abstain from various negative uses of the tongue. By now you may have concluded you will never be able to say more than a few words for the rest of your life if you are to tame the little unruly member that sets the course of your destiny. If you have decided a vow of silence is your only hope, read on...
Talking is absolutely essential to maintaining effective relationships. As a child, your parents or teachers may have drilled into your head the proverb that "silence is golden." The truth is that this is a half-quoted proverb. The complete saying is, "Speech is silver, silence is golden." While keeping one's mouth shut is a great virtue, effective communication is to a relationship what oxygen is to the body. To say, "speech is silver" implies that speaking has significant value. Silver was once a primary medium of exchange, just as currency is today. It was used to trade one value for another. When we talk, it should be an exchange of valuable information. All the previous TYT devotions/Bible studies have highlighted various types of negative communications that provided no value. Let's now focus on those instances in which silence has no value.
Silence is not golden when one uses it as a passive, retaliatory means of expressing his anger or displeasure with a situation. In fact, such silence is a direct violation of our Lord's command to confront those who offend us.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother - Matthew 18:15
Jesus is recommending pretty assertive behavior in commanding us to take the initiate in addressing an offense or a trespass. Trespassing is an unauthorized crossing of boundary. Many times we feel we have been trespassed or wronged, but rather than discussing the issue with the offender, we resort to sulking and pouting. Women are especially prone to keeping silent as most have been socialized to think it is unladylike to be so direct as to say, "I was offended by your actions. Please don;t do that again." Unfortunately, this lack of communication leaves many offenders totally unaware that their behavior has negatively affected us. Thus, they are more likely to repeat the offense.
Silence is not golden when we refuse to defend someone against unwarranted criticism or vicious rumors. We cannot let our fear of alienation or rejection cause us to allow slander and character assassinations when we are well aware of facts to the contrary.
Silence is not golden when it results in us making an undesirable decision by default. After all, silence can indicate consent. Prayer was taken out of public schools in the United States because the majority kept quiet and did not protest. In the book of Numbers, Moses reiterated that silence is indeed consent. He gave instructions on how to deal with single women who made vows:
When a young woman still living in her father's house makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, the all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the Lord will release her because her father has forbidden her - Numbers 30:3-5
He went on to instruct in verses 10-15 that the same rules applied to a married woman. Her vow was to stand if her husband failed to protest it in a timely manner. His silence gave consent to her actions.
A Japanese proverb states, "Silent worms dig holes in the walls." To keep silent when one should be speaking is a sure way to dig holes in your relationships.
I will not keep silent when I should be speaking.
(Personally, I do not have THIS malady. But it serves as a nice reminder to those who may suffer from it.)