Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Grace To Shut Up

(Mark 9:5–6) Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.
I have great empathy for Peter in this passage.  He did not know what to say, but felt like he needed to say something... and he is ultimately rebuked by God directly from heaven.

It is too easy to say the first thing that comes into my mind and end up communicating things that I did not intend.  So far I've never received an audible rebuke from heaven, but I am sure that many times God has disapproved of my outbursts.
(James 1:19–20) ¶ So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
I should have kept my mouth closed and my ears open.  I should have kept my temper and my pride in check.  I should have rested my confidence in God and held my peace.  I should have thought through the implications of what I was about to say.  I should have been careful about who I was contradicting and where I was contradicting them.  I should have been more careful with what I thought would be humorous - and realized that someone would not think it was funny, or that it was funny at their expense.  I should have had the grace to shut up.

As I have matured, I have slowly learned that I don't need to express everything I think.  I don't need to correct every error I encounter - and especially not where it will embarrass the other person.  Sometimes, if I listen for a little while longer or ask a few questions, I will learn that I was mistaken in the first place about what the person was saying.  Other times, I need to have longsuffering & mercy on people who have the same problem I do.  They talk too much.
(Proverbs 17:28)  Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
I don't want to be a silent fool.  I want to be a person who is often silent because he is wise.  Lord, give me the grace to shut up.

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