You have the right to remain silent. We all have heard these words. The Miranda Warning… You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense. We know that these are quoted to those who are being questioned or arrested by the police however have you ever thought of these words and considered applying them to your own life?
There are times in life when we should remain silent. Over the past 4 years, God has taken me on a journey of silence. Not a vow of silence but a journey. Anyone who knows me understands that I generally have an opinion and am very vocal so the act of silence is definitely a God-act. I’ve learned many valuable lessons while being silent. I’ve seen into the hearts of many; the good and the bad. I’ve been taught so much about myself that I could not have learned if not silent. I’ve found that you can hear much better the thoughts & intents of others and most importantly the Voice of God while being silent.
I’ve learned that so many times in so many situations silence is the preferred response. When Jesus faced the Sanhedrin in Matthew 26:63…He remained silent. In Matthew 27:12 when Jesus faced Pilate and the chief priests accused him….He remained silent. In Psalm 4:4, David tells us, don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. Recently when I was going through a stressful time of being falsely accused & slandered, God gave me the scriptures in Exodus 14:13-14 (MSG) Moses spoke to the people: "Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you're never going to see them again. God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!" God through His Word spoke to me to not say a word, to hold my peace & let him deal with those who set out to destroy me. He gave me the right to remain silent.
I’ve found during my journey that remaining silent is not easy but most definitely necessary. The beginning of my silence lesson started about 4 years ago. I sat silent as I watched adults talk about one of my boys. I sat silent as I watched him struggle through this time knowing he had done no wrong but was treated as though he had anyway. I watched in silence as he was treated unjustly never bringing out that fact to those who caused this pain. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. On several occasions during this time, I would sit in this group of peers hiding behind my sunglasses as tears ran down my face knowing my child didn’t deserve this but knowing a bigger lesson was being taught. It was as if my heart was ripped out, and possibly was. I discovered however that those mangled portions were being replaced with something better. During this time, I learned patience, self-control, kindness, and long suffering; those fruits of the Spirit that we sometimes have so much trouble with.
Self-control kept me from speaking; for it would have done more harm than good. Patience & long-suffering kept me continuing down this path to which there was no foreseeable end. It kept me silent in my chair when I sincerely wanted no part of silence. Kindness kept me from treating them as my flesh wanted to. To act like a momma bear protecting her cubs. But what good would that have done? I would have ostracized us. I would have been seen as out of control, & I would have lost any Christian witness that I might have. So, I sat in silence.
Sitting in silence did not tell my son that I didn’t care or love him. It didn’t tell him that I wouldn’t stand up for him, but it taught him that sometimes in life it’s not about being right or treated fairly but sometimes there is a bigger picture, a larger lesson, and a deeper learning that is necessary to make us who God desires us to be. I’ve watched in admiration of him as just this last week, he was telling me a story of something that had happened, & I asked ‘well, did you say so & so?’. He said, ‘no, mom, that would have done no good & perhaps caused problems.’ I think perhaps he got it. He too has learned….we do have the right to remain silent.
Just as the Miranda Warning tells us that “anything you say can and will be held against you”, we can rest assured that those words are true. Matthew 12:36 says, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” When we read that we think….really? I’m here to say…really! Idle words are negative & useless words that produce no good effect. Words that harm. I’ve been guilty of using idle words. I’ll be the first to admit that; however through this journey of silence I’ve learned that those idle words become less & less spoken because of the consciousness of the great impact of words.
I’ve discovered in remaining silent that we can keep others from being hurt, offended, and sinning. Matthew 18:6 says “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Wow, it would be better to have a huge weight tied around your neck & thrown into the ocean & drown than to cause someone else to sin. Can our words do that? Yes! When we talk about our offenses to another person, we are causing that person to think negatively about someone else. When we “share” our latest story of what another said to us that hurt our feelings, we are not speaking what is “good, what edifies or imparts grace” (Ephesians 4:29) We are speaking words that could cause someone to feel uncomfortable around another. Our words could cause them to take sides in a situation that has nothing whatsoever to do with them. Our words can even cause them to sin by being angry or becoming bitter toward another. Causing another Christian to sin is in and of itself sin; therefore, we should be very cautious when we speak. We should be aware of how our words and actions may affect others. We have the right to remain silent.
During my journey of silence, I’ve had situations arise that absolutely no one knows about because I’ve chosen to only tell God…not even my husband. Now you may be thinking that I’m wrong for “keeping secrets” from my spouse, but I can whole-heartedly tell you that I am not. I’ve heard God’s voice telling me to remain silent. If I had told him certain happenings, he would feel differently toward certain people and he may not be comfortable around them and I may cause him to sin by my words. Proverbs 11: 13 says, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” I’m here to tell you that everyone in your home, family, church, or circle of friends does not need to know everything negative, hurtful, or offensive that happens to you. They can’t do anything about it anyway, and we shouldn’t risk causing someone else to sin because we couldn’t get over the fact that something negative happened to me. We just need to suck it up, know that life sometimes hurts, & learn to rely on God to deal with situations & problems. We need to not cause others to fall because we can’t remain silent. We have the right to remain silent.
God has shown me so much during this journey of silence. I still am opinionated but I’ve learned (most of the time) to wait on someone to ask my opinion. I have learned that words are not necessary. I’ve learned that it’s best when giving an answer to use scripture….which is the Voice of Truth. I’ve learned to limit my exposure to those who use too many words for they are many times negative, gossips, and hurtful to others. I’ve learned that Proverbs 10:19 is true, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking but he who restrains his lips is wise.” I’ve learned that God can fix problems much better than I can. I’ve learned that speaking up for myself or those I love is not necessary. For God is our Protector& Defender! I’ve learned that, “Whoever guards his mouth & tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23). I’ve learned that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). I’ve learned that, “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back” (Proverbs 29:11). I’ve learned that the funny quote is true…Silence is golden but duct tape is silver and that sometimes we need duct tape because we fail miserably at the silence part! I’m sure I will continue on my journey of silence for a while longer James 3:8a says “But no man can tame the tongue”, But I’m here to tell you that God certainly can & He has. I think the most important thing is that I’ve learned that…. I have the right to remain silent.
©Stephanie Thompson July 21, 2011