“Sometimes it’s better just to listen.”

“A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Ecclesiastes 3:7b, CSB

From the world’s wisest man, I believe this is one of the wisest statements we believers can take to heart. Growing up, I had a student pastor who had many “sayings” he quoted to us quite frequently. Many of those sayings I have forgotten, but there is one that has stuck with me since I was a young teenager. The saying is this:

“Sometimes it’s better just to listen.”

I have learned much wisdom from this statement. Personally, I’ve tried to quiet myself in situations where I am tempted to speak without thinking or out of anger. I’ve also tried to hold back when I’ve been tempted to speak wrongly toward another person.

Yet there is also a mandate from Scripture to, not only stay silent, but to speak wisely. As noted in Ecclesiastes, there is a time to be silent, but there is also a time to speak. Sometimes the wisest decision you can make is to be silent. In my opinion, there is no wiser action taken by someone than to be silent in a situation. Yet there is an imperative for people to speak up for what they believe in places where they are defending the gospel or in certain moral/ethical situations. 

Being a millennial, I have been known to do things too quickly. I know I am not alone in this. There are many situation in which I need to slow down and take some time to think it through. Similarly, there are some situations in which I need to simply think through what I should say.

Silence doesn’t imply weakness. 

For a long time, silence has been viewed as weakness – to be silent was to be inferior. I’ve been in situations where I’ve chosen to be silent rather than speak up about certain trials in which I have went. Sometimes, silence was the wrong choice. Other times, it was the right choice.

I often think of Jesus’ trial before Pontious Pilate.

“Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.”

Matthew 27:13-14, ESV

Does Jesus’ silence seem weak? Maybe to us, as humans. Obviously, the context of these verses are quite different than the passage in Ecclesiastes. But there is a similarity – silence. Jesus was silent – which seems a bit weak – yet He ends up victorious. It seems weak, from the surface, to say nothing when given the choice to explain these false accusations. To our carnal, human, depraved thought processes, Jesus actions seem weak and inferior. But as we see in Matthew 28, you will notice that Jesus was victorious even by His silence.

I believe there is a lesson for us: sometime our silence can be the best choice. I would love to say that your silence will bring you victory, but this would be border-line prosperity gospel. But your silence will speak and will show others your wisdom.

“Sometimes it’s better just to listen.”


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