Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Silence Can be Golden

Meditation for the week of October 24, 2010

Habakkuk 2:20 But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.

We do not live in a quiet world.  Most college courses in communication deal with debate, and public speaking.  I am not sure that I have ever taken a course in how to be silent.  There are some courses that dabble in New Age religions that would teach some sort of meditative silence, but I don’t recommend those.   However, “being still” is commended in Scripture. Psalm 4:4 says, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.”

Generally, when we are talking we are not listening and when we are listening we are not talking.  Most of us are pretty good at the talking, but we are not very good at the listening.  When we pray, we try to have disciplined prayer times when we talk to God; and as we read the Word of God, we listen to what God has to say through his Word.  But do we have quiet times when we are neither talking nor reading but just listening?  In our day of mass media and mass entertainment, we are bombarded with noise.  When we are in a restaurant, we not only have the TV’s on, but there is usually background music that in some cases is quite obnoxious.  When I watch people study in libraries or at coffee shops, most of them have head phones on.  We live in a day when people crave noise.  Being quiet or silent before God so that we can be listening instead of talking is not something that we normally cultivate.

Sometimes “silence really is golden”.  However, when I listen to news programs, talk programs, or sports commentators, I hear people falling all over themselves to be heard.  They are curt and cut off the others on the program because what they have to say is so important.  Silence shows courtesy and interest in what the other person has to say.  When we are silent, we are giving the other person an opportunity to teach us and we are showing respect.  If we really esteemed others better than ourselves as Paul admonished the Philippians, we would do more listening and less speaking (Philippians 2:3).   James reminds us to be swift to hear, slow to speak (James 1:19).  In the Scripture, crowds go silent when they want to hear what someone has to say  (See Acts 21:40). 

I believe times of silence in the presence of God need to be cultivated.  We know that all of us have problems knowing the will of God, but if we really want to know His will we need to listen to Him.  We need to know His Word because He will never ask us to carry out a plan that is contrary to His Word.  However, there are many areas in life where a number of choices would Scriptural, but only one choice can be pursued.  The jobs we take or the houses we buy would be examples where there is no “thus saith the Lord” in the Bible.   In order to know the will of God in these situations, we not only need to talk to God about the “desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4)”, but we need to listen to God as He speaks to our hearts.  This requires quiet time when we are listening and not speaking.

There are times when we need to be silent because we simply have nothing to say.  That may be why the earth is silent in the verse we are considering.  The awe of being in the presence of a holy God should cause us to refrain from speaking.   We have the sin nature even if we are saved.  Romans 3:19, reminds us “that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”  A guilty person has nothing to say.  But if we listen we will hear the assuring Word of the Lord that says that God is just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).  God knows how to make a sinner right with Him through faith in Jesus Christ.  Those are Words worth hearing and believing. 

Silence in the presence of another shows reverence, respect,  and interest as well as showing true repentance when we have sinned.  Silence allows us to listen.  How many of us have experienced the joy of being silent in the presence of God and hearing Him speak to us personally?  This should have happened when we trusted Him as Savior, but hopefully we have experienced the Lord speaking to us since we have passed from death unto life as well (John 5:24).  

Bruce Collins

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