“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19b
I was at boarding school for most of each year, so I grew up without family dinners. I had a table of peers to eat with at the end of the day. But there was no one who really listened and took an interest in how my day had gone.
Is it any wonder that I was bursting to express myself and be heard? I thought if I could only explain myself, I would be understood and validated. Yet no matter how hard I tried, many of my efforts backfired. They caused me pain and alienated me from others. I often felt trapped in anger and hurt. I had things I wanted to say!
Last year a friend said to me, “I realized I didn’t have to say what I wanted to say.” Slowly, I let that seep in. She was releasing her right to say what she wanted to because that sacrifice made a significant contribution towards peace in their home.
As I re-read Proverbs, I saw that the writer claims beautiful rewards from this sacrifice of not speaking. “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lip is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver …. The lips of the righteous feed many.” (Proverbs 10:11a; 19-21, ESV)
Does your heart yearn for freedom from the tyranny of having your say? Do you long to bring health and life to others? There are times when we need to speak up, but there are also moments when we would do well to hold our peace. Would you like to join me in the sacrifice of not always having to say the words we want to say?
Gracious, compassionate, and merciful Heavenly Father, would you grant me the grace to let go of “my right” to speak and to only speak in ways that honor and bless others as made in your image. Amen.
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