Jump Start # 2488
Ecclesiastes 3:7 “A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
Here in this famous section that we commonly call the seasons of life, Solomon, in a series of fourteen couplets or opposites, paints for us a picture of the right time. There is a time, he says. In the verse we are looking at, there is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
What Solomon doesn’t do is tell us when those times are. Just when should I be silent and when should I speak? Often, we speak when we should have been silent. And, there are times that we keep silent when saying something would have been appropriate.
When to keep silent: I don’t always get this one right, but I will share some observations.
First, we need to let the other person finish talking. Often, we hear just enough and we are ready to respond. We interrupt. We starting formulating a rebuttal. And, by not listening completely, we can jump to the wrong conclusions, assume the worst, accuse without all the facts and be ready to pronounce a judgment on someone who we may actually agree with. We just didn’t hear him out.
Parents need to do this with their children. Shepherds must do this with the sheep. Now, some folks take a long time getting to the point. Some, the way they tell a story, leaves you dizzy and in a fog. Be patient. Be kind. This is what you would want someone doing with you.
Second, we need to hold our opinions. We don’t have to express our feelings upon every subject. You’ll see those that do. They have to have the first word, the middle word and the last word. You can keep things to yourself. Some thoughts just do not have to be shared. Drama, dog fights, hurt feelings often come because someone couldn’t keep quiet about a topic. In the New Testament, James says, be quick to hear and slow to speak. We often get those two backwards, and are talking more than we are listening.
Third, comfort is often best expressed in silence. Job’s friends came and sat for a week without saying any words. That was about the best week Job had in that book. When they decided to talk, things went down hill. You don’t have to say anything at a funeral. Just come. Hug. Be there. Presence means more than words. A handshake. Holding hands. You can’t put words on those kind deeds.
Fourth, when you haven’t thought things out in your mind. That’s a time to be silent. We really mess that up in a Bible class. Off the top of our heads, we ask things that can be controversial, wrong, and just not thought out. The first thought that floats across our minds we feel compelled to express it out loud. A person needs to remember who all is in the class. Will your comment do more harm than good? A person needs to understand the flow of the class. Some questions have nothing to do with what is being talked about. Some questions require us to spend a little time thinking them out ourselves before we ask others.
There is a time to be silent.
But then, there is a time to speak. What about those times?
First, in worship we need to speak to one another and to God through songs. We need to lift up our voices. We need to express to God how much we love Him. We need to let brethren know how important they are to us.
Second, when we can help someone be more accurate with God’s word. Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures and fervent in spirit. However, all he knew was the baptism of John. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took Apollos aside and taught him more accurately. The key here is that they took him aside. They didn’t make a scene going out the church door. They didn’t threaten to label him a false teacher. They didn’t destroy his spirit. But, they did speak to him. They didn’t leave it for someone else to do. They loved the truth of God’s word enough to say something. There is a time to speak.
Third, when the element of forgiveness is in the air, we need to speak. It may be apologizing to someone. We need to speak. We need to be clear. We need not dance around the subject, nor hide behind empty excuses. If you did wrong, admit it. Say it. But, then on the other end, when someone apologies to us, they need to hear that we forgive them. Say that. Let it be know that we hold no ill towards them. Let them know that you love them.
A time to be silent and a time to speak. We certainly could use some help in these areas.