The Sanctity of Silence

In marketing, we talk a lot about “noise.” Noise is anything that distracts the intended audience from hearing the message, and as you can probably guess, we live in a very noisy world. Not only are people bombarded by a variety of different messages, creating noise through the sheer preponderance of different communications, but there are so many other distractions that keep people from listening. The cell phone ring, the email bing, and traffic on the freeway can all be causes of noise. It is hard to get a word in edgewise.

Yet I find that even though it’s difficult, I still manage to do so. Despite the distractions and disruptions, I still spend a significant part of my day talking. Set aside the fact that as a professor talking is a critical part of my job, and I’m still using thousands upon thousands of words a day. And I’ve come to realize that I probably should be using a few less.

Here’s why. I’ve learned that the more I talk, the more likely I am to sin. I understand that may sound odd, but think about it – most of the subtle sins that creep into our lives have to do with the use of our tongue. Whether it’s the telling of “white” lies (there is no such thing in God’s eyes), the cruel comeback to make ourselves look good while belittling another, or the juicy bit of gossip we just have to pass along – our mouths get us into all sorts of trouble. Most of the time if we weren’t so quick to jump in with what we wanted to say, we could avoid that sin altogether.

It’s probably why the Bible spends such a considerable amount of time warning us about our tongue. James talks about it extensively, as does Proverbs. In fact, Proverbs makes it very clear that the less we talk, the more we are likely to avoid sin when it states, ” When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19, NIV).

What I’ve further realize is that this shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, as a follower of God my goal is to be more like Him. And how many times have you heard someone wish that God would speak more?  It’s possible that He is speaking and they’re just not listening, but it also may be because God is going to use His words wisely  and therefore, He doesn’t have to use too many of them. It may seem like He’s silent because in comparison to us, He is. But we should be striving to be more like Him, not wishing for Him to be more like us, and we would be wise to respond accordingly.

After all, a little less noise would probably be a good thing and  less sin definitely would be.

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