When Silence Speaks
Being challenged by his articulate priest, a bright, sensitive young man decided he wanted to become a monk. He discussed it many times during high school days with the pastor of his parish. Seeing he could not discourage the aspirant but warning him of the rugged discipline required, the pastor finally recommended the lad to the proper authorities.
The superior in charge of the desired order told the candidate he would be allowed to speak but two words for the first ten years. At the end of that exhausting period, he was asked, “Do you have any comment?”
Another decade of dedication was endured. The monk’s confessor asked, “Do you have anything to say?”
At last the third decade of silence passed. Again the candidate for the chosen order was asked to comment.
“Good,” replied the superior, “you’ve done nothing but complain for the last thirty years.”
I was on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic in 2007. In the Dominican Republic people travel on mopeds quite frequently. So, it is easy to be annoyed by the noise of the street. I remember laying on my bed in my hotel room thinking how nice it will be to leave that country, no longer hearing the constant horns. But it is not just the horns. I do not know any Spanish. We landed in Santa Domingo and entered the air port and everyone was talking. I heard lots of noise and saw a big crowd, but I did not know what they were saying.
So, let’s talk about words for a minute.
One does not have to watch the news long to hear about Cyber bullying. This happens on the internet. This can happen over text messaging, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat. So, in Jesus’ day if one were to harm people with their words it might be in a letter, rarely, more often than not the words pierced in a one-on-one conversation. Today, we find new ways to hurt people.
With respect to the cyber world it is not just teens that are arguing. I have seen people arguing about supposed Christian issues. I have seen people tearing each other apart. I have had close friends or families ask me my thoughts on those arguments and I will tell them to call the person up or “let it go.” I read articles from Churchleaders.com most every day and the articles give an opportunity for a response. People will comment and add to the subject by discussing the article. However, you would not believe the responses which become attacks and arguments.
I wonder: Why cannot we, or rather, why cannot I let God have the last word? Or, why cannot we, or rather, why cannot I give it a break. I have had things bother me until I respond in a meeting or email. But, many times, after a day I realize it was not a big deal. It can wait. I can “Back off.”
Let’s read two passages: Isaiah 53:7 and Mark 15:4-5:
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
Jesus’ silence is also referenced in: Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 14:61; Luke 23:9 and John 19:9.
So, right now I am going to focus on our silence or lack thereof in accusations, trials or witnessing. It would be easy to focus on silence in general, but Jesus was accused and persecuted and He did not open His mouth. So, this sermon is not about meditation, though that is important. This sermon is about communicating a grievance or responding under attack.
I have three application:
1. Let it go for a day.
2. After a day if we cannot let it go write out notes and wait a day.
3. Pray and talk to a Christian brother or sister before responding.
So, let’s look at these.
I. Let it go for a day.
a. Or, let it go for good. Maybe after a day we will realize that we don’t need to respond to the attack or accusation at all.
b. Play song/video
c. Just think of the movie “Frozen” with the song: “Let it Go.” Actually, we are going to play the song. For some of you this will be the first time you have heard this song or seen the video. Congratulations! I hear it every day in the Childcare Center AND AT HOME.
d. By playing the song I hope to etch this point in memory for all of us.
e. As I looked at this passage I thought about myself. I thought about how we all either fight or flight. This means in an argument we will all either respond and fight or respond and flight. The fighters respond and argue. The flighters shut down or run away. The D.i.S.C. Personality profile will tell us what our natural tendency is. In fact, there is a couple’s D.i.S.C. that will tell how couples will naturally fight. What happens is the fighters want to fight (not literally, but they want to argue). At the same time their spouse is flighting or shutting down and that makes the fight worse. So, I thought about myself and my tendency is to fight. I do not want to wait. I want to argue right now. Let’s settle this.
f. But as I thought about this passage I remember the troubles that I have had because of this. Now, my troubles have not been on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snap Chat or texting. I will get an email and respond too quickly. Or, it may simply be stress. I will be stressed out all night replaying a conversation in my head.
g. Jesus’ example was silence. Jesus was beaten, yet silent. Jesus could have responded. But in this case He did not.
h. It would be wrong to make a whole sermon on why we need to be silent to accusations based on how Jesus responded in the trial. Jesus was not always silent. Check out Matthew 23. So what about when we need to respond.
i. Jesus was not always silent. Matthew 23. Jesus did not always remain silent before His accusers, for He did answer Pilate’s questions (Mk 14:62; Lk 23:2; Jn 18:33–37). But Jesus was silent when the chief priest made accusations against Him (Mt 27:12–14; Mk 15:1–4) and His few words to Pilate did not refute His accusers. The silence was concerning those who would accuse Him (see 1 Pt 2:23).
ii. Proverbs 15:1: “A Gentle answer turns away wrath.”
II. After a day, if we cannot let it go write out notes and wait a day.
a. I once heard about Rev. Dr. Charles Swindoll walking through a tour of a cult center and he was with one of his professors. Many times the tour guide would say something and Swindoll would say to his professor something like: “Now is the time let’s nail them with the truth.” The professor would comment, “Not yet.” They went back and forth several times until at the end of the tour, the professor, Swindoll and the guide had a fruitful Gospel conversation. Swindoll was ready to fight, to have an argument. The professor waited patiently for the right time and right attitude.
b. Remember Philippians 2:3-4:
i. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
c. Remember 1 Cor. 13:4-7:
i. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
d. When we write out notes we can process what was said and what bothered us. We can pray about that and think about it. Writing out is processing.
III. Pray and talk with a Christian friend in confidence.
a. We need sounding boards for God to speak through. These are our Christian brothers and sisters.
b. Meet with someone, pray about it, share your notes, talk about it.
c. Then, if you need to, deal with the accusation using the Biblical model of approach.
d. Or, let it go.
Rev. Dr. Swindoll writes:
Kids are nutty.
Some friends of ours in Texas have two little girls. The younger child is constantly on the move, rarely winding down by bedtime. So the nightly affair has become something of a familiar routine. A story from her favorite book. A drink of water. A prayer. A song. Her doll. Another drink of water. A kiss. A hug. A third sip of water. A trip to the bathroom. A warning. Another kiss. You know, the whole bit.
One night her dad decided he’d be Mr. Nice Guy, the epitome of patience and tolerance. He did it all. Not once did he lose his cool. When Miss Busybody finally ran out of requests, her daddy slipped out of the room, heaved a sigh of relief, and slumped into his favorite chair by the fireplace. Before he could stretch out and relax, however, there was a piercing scream from the jitterbug’s room. Startled, he dashed down the hall and rushed to her bedside. Great tears were rolling down the little girl’s face. “What’s wrong? What happened?” “I burnt my tongue.” Baffled, he tried again, “You what?” “I burnt my tongue!” she yelled. “How in the world did you do that?” he asked. “I licked my night-light.”
That really happened. She couldn’t control her curiosity. She simply had to discover how it would feel to lick that little thing that glowed so warmly and serenely by her bed. Rude was her awakening to the fact that lights are strictly for lighting . . . not licking. And tongues are made for tasting . . . not testing. You and I realize that the best thing our little friend could have done was to stay in bed, keep her tongue to herself, and allow the light to fulfill its appointed function. But she didn’t—and she got burned.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon, the wise, passes along to us a list of various types of “appointed times” on earth. Among them he mentions a time to heal . . . a time to shun embracing . . . a time to give up as lost . . .a time to be silent
I see in these words of counsel one strong undercurrent of advice: BACKOFF! It is often wise to relax our intensity, refuse to force an issue, allow nature to take its course, “let sleeping dogs lie.” Backing off, says Solomon, provides opportunity for healing to occur, opportunity for perspective to break through the storm clouds of emotion and illuminate a difficult situation with a fresh understanding. When the time is right, things flow very naturally, very freely. To rush or force creates friction-scars that take years to erase. Take it from one who has learned this difficult lesson the hard way—keep a tight bridle on your tongue, relax, and settle for a good night’s sleep. Otherwise, you’re going to get pushy, you’re going to get caught with your tongue in the wrong place . and you’re going to get burned.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1988,
1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.
I think that wraps it up. Let it go.
Do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)