Holding it in
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” (Proverbs 18:13)
There are all sorts of opinions we could level at situations and circumstances. Think first though. Do we realize that, were we in the same exact position—down to the atom—of another, we’d probably make a similar decision? And if that decision the person made upset you, then you get the wonderful opportunity of lifting them before the Lord and forgiving them. In more ways than one (though not every way) are we a product of our surroundings and circumstances. We’d do well to make sure we have the facts—the ones we can ascertain and obtain—before we interject our opinions. A broad statement, I know, with a thousand applications but this is what the above verse is referencing.
Holding our tongue
“They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.” (Job 32:15)
This is Elihu speaking. He was too young to back up his “wise” opinions and assertions with actual experience. But he’s referring here to Job’s three friends, who, in spite of their age and experience had not learned to judge with mercy, compassion and forgiveness. All they could do was berate Job for something they had no hope of understanding. Even with all their combined “wisdom”. Those who might hold a position of authority neglect or reject the spirit of the law in favor of the letter. It might look like you’re just slacking off and lazy and lethargic, but you’re really under some sort of spiritual oppression because of your faith. Did you ever think of that? Job’s friends hadn’t and it doesn’t sound like Elihu was able to fathom it either. Hold on to God and He will exonerate you in your silence. As an aside, Job’s friends were silent for, it says, “seven days and seven nights…for they saw that his grief was very great.” (Job 2:13) Maybe they could have waited just a little longer prior to piping up?
“Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Peter 2:23)
There are all sorts of reasons to hold our tongue. To keep our mouth shut in the face of slander and accusation. There are right reasons and wrong reasons. By declaring our position, we very well may be “answering a matter before we hear it” as Solomon wrote. Best to use wisdom when faced with any lie that would seek to hinder us in any way, shape or form. When Jesus “held His peace” before His accusers, He was doing it for many reasons. First would be because His Father didn’t want Him to speak. Simple as that. “For I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29). And sometimes, that’s the level of obedience that God requires of us in certain situations. “Because I said so” is extremely offensive to our pride. If you feel no answer behind an acute implication of obedience to God in keeping mum, know that He has the facts and He’ll justify you when your time is right.
Holding our peace
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
It can indeed be hard to maintain our equilibrium in this life when we’re accosted and accused for things we had no hand in. I think it’s happened to everyone at some time and if it hasn’t, it’s bound to. Assuming it has, it’s probably something you encountered as a child and among your peers. And for whatever reason, it didn’t just remain confined to that time and place. Take heart. The peace from God that is rightfully yours is something that you can give when you do choose to speak. That’s the key. Opening our mouth to spew venom back at those who originally tried to infect us will only perpetuate the problem. You want to see them in Heaven don’t you?
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:16)