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“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
I wanted to write a short article today about the wisdom of silence.
There’s an awful lot of awful news, which has left the world with fresh scars in recent days, and the responses have been varied. Some of those responses are heartfelt, and yet unwise, some are evil, some are good. I’ve seen pastoral tweets and helpful counsel, some standing in support, others in opposition. These responses beget further responses, and the cycle goes on.
In just a few weeks, another tragedy will strike—though likely not on this scale—and we’ll see a similar explosion.
Then there’ll be another.
So much of what I see causes me immense grief, as I’m sure it does for many of you reading, and some of what I see brings out anger in me. I wish I was slower to anger in these things, but I’m not. I need to be sanctified further, just as we all do. Thankfully, my anger never leads to physical outbursts, but as a writer, my natural inclination would be to give that anger an outlet. I’m tempted to write fast, to write well, but to write unrighteously, as it says in James, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
I’m not saying any of this to minimise the hurt others are feeling, because I share your pain. I’m certainly not looking down on others for writing, or tweeting, or talking about these issues, because you may well be able to do so more wisely than I can; and in a more measured way. For me, however—and for many others who have been silent through not only this cataclysmic event, but many others—our silence is not out of cowardice or lack of care, but out of a desire to accord with Godly wisdom.
It is my desire to, “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word” even in the face of darkness and evil. As a result of that, I have made a promise to myself—and now to my readers—not to lash out in anger, even when I feel justified in doing so. This has meant sitting on some subjects that I feel strongly about and not speaking out on them, even when I see others doing so. I have written in the past about deeply troubling subjects that have affected me personally, like abuse, and physical suffering, but have only done so with the counsel of others to help guide me, and with much prayer and thought.
Silence can be deadly, but for those of us who sometimes struggle to be “slow to anger,” we ought to focus on being, “slow to speak.”
I know not everyone will agree, but I hope that this will help you to understand when others remain silent although you cannot.
Grace and Peace,
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