Almost everyone has something to say about nearly everything these days. There appears to be little, if any, restraint in the stream of words flowing out of mouths and from fingers. It seems to me that we have forsaken the value of silence. We’ve become so preoccupied with our own lives that we have lost perspective and actually think people are interested in all the words we’re determined to speak and publish. Our incessant verbiage is shutting the doors of our ears to what God has to say and closing the windows of our eyes to what God wants to show us. We’re killing ourselves with endless drivel.
To speak or not to speak, that is the question, and social media is driving us in the wrong direction on this one. I don’t blame social media. Through it I’ve reconnected with friends from the past and found a great venue for communication with extended family. It’s just that social media has made it a lot easier for more people to unleash a relentless barrage of meaningless trivia and deadly missiles for public consumption and subsequent indigestion. We live in a time when, strangely, people feel they must not allow any thought to go unspoken or any opinion to remain unexpressed, both of which are often expressed with illogic and rudeness.
There is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak,” according to the preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:7. I don’t believe it’s accidental that “silence” comes before “speak” especially in light of James’ admonition that everyone “be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19). A lot more silence would certainly increase the likelihood that when we say something it would actually be worth hearing.
One of the threads woven into the tapestry of the Advent season is silence. Wonder will do that to you – silence you. Preparation of the heart and mind requires it. Not surprisingly, retailers refuse to cooperate with it because they want the ear of shoppers. Christmas music might be sweet, but it’s not silence.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer helps us understand the need for silence with these words from one of his Advent meditations:
“In being quiet there is a miraculous power of clarification, of purification, of bringing together what is important. This is a purely profane [i.e. nonreligious] fact. Silence before the word, however, leads to the right hearing and thus also to the right speaking of the word of God at the right time. A lot that is unnecessary remains unsaid.”
If you want to indulge yourself in a special treat this Christmas, open God’s Word and try some silence. You won’t be the only one to enjoy it.