Being quiet isn't too fashionable today. It's usually the talkative person who makes the sale or gets the promotion, or the loud person who gets the laugh at a party. We tend to view a quiet person as one who is shy, timid, scared, or isolated. We don't think of shyness as a positive trait, but what does the Bible say?
1 Thessalonians 4:11 gives us three guidelines:
1) Lead quiet lives.
2) Mind our own business.
3) Work with our hands.
God wants us to live quietly and in peace, paying more attention to our duties and less to those of others. Each of us should maintain a gentle and humble spirit, exhibited by a sense of quietness in our daily speech. We shouldn't try to attract attention by displaying a false front through empty words.
The Bible warns us about godless chatter, or small talk, by associating spoken words with sin, and quietness with wisdom, knowledge, and discernment. Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. " Could the common fear of public speaking be one way that God reminds us of His doctrine of quietness?
It only makes sense that the more we talk, the less we will be available to listen to others and learn from them. When other people are talking, we should concentrate upon what they're saying, rather than upon what we would like to say next. The book of James tells us that since the tongue is a powerful weapon, we should be quick to listen, and slow to speak. When we do speak, our speech should be full of grace (Colossians 4:6). Christians should be nice, courteous, and responsive when others speak to them, without making judgmental comments.
Our best role model is Jesus himself, as displayed throughout the gospels. When Christ's adversaries rejected His message, He didn't argue and plead. Instead of telling them how terribly wrong they were, he would just quietly leave. When they became indignant, Matthew 26:63 tells us simply that Jesus remained silent. Of course, He spoke when appropriate, but when confronted by those who were only looking for an argument, He practiced silence, and we should too. Of all people, Jesus had the right to speak, but He often chose not to do so.
To many people, the doctrine of quietness doesn't stand out as a major teaching of Christianity. However, all Christians are admonished to practice this doctrine. This is difficult for us because of social pressures, but a Christian who has been humbled by God's grace and sovereignty will be convicted to practice quiet humility. Our society encourages a positive self-image and high self-esteem, but these traits often lead to pride. It could be said that most of us suffer from too little humility rather than too little self-esteem.
We shouldn't submit to the peer pressure to be loud or to talk excessively. Humility and quietness don't come naturally or easily because of our flesh, but when these characteristics are exhibited, they deserve our utmost respect. Proverbs 17:28 clearly states God's position, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. "
Owen Weber is the founder of Christian Data Resources, which publishes Christian books and articles on topical issues and frequently asked Bible questions. His passion is to promote Bible study by teaching others how to learn more about God's Word. This will enable readers to decide where they stand on the issues, according to how they interpret God's Word for themselves.
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