When Silence is Better than Speaking ‘Truth’
I have been reading through the Old Testament book of Job for awhile now. I’m sure you are familiar with the basic storyline of the book.
Job, a wealthy land owner and businessman was father to grown children and married to one wife. He was an extremely wealthy man who lost it all due to an unforeseen exchange between God and the devil.
Some of Job’s friends come to commiserate with him. It is commendable that they sit with Job and say nothing for days on; however, when they finally do speak, what they have to say is less than comforting! Three of the four friends blather on – one after another, hurling a litany of invectives at Job.
Silent in the shadows until chapter 32 is a younger guy named Elihu. He waited until the three other friends got done spewing all that they had to spit out at Job. He waited out of deference toward his elders. He must have sensed that the other guys were a bit rough on Job so he assures him by saying, “Behold, no fear of me need terrify you; my pressure will not be heavy on you” (Job 32:7).
Elihu didn’t live up to his reassuring promise. Almost immediately he began accusing Job and then he caught up to the other three friends with the condemnation aimed straight at Job’s character. His accusations were just as bad as the other three guys!
Isn’t it interesting that when we listen to other people give advice or say comments about others that it can seem sometimes harsh; yet, when it comes time for us to say something that we feel strongly about, it simply seems like the right thing to say? But what if that’s the same perspective all four of Job’s friends equally possessed?
What if they truly thought they were not laying upon Job a heavy burden; rather, that they were simply saying what needed to be said? They thought their words were rooted in truth and for Job’s correction and benefit. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with them because they did not speak of Him what was true (Job 42:7-8).
Is there a lesson for us? Perhaps. Could it be that we should reserve our scathing judgment of others and not assume that we are as wise as we sometimes like to think we are? A better display of wisdom would be speaking the truth in love. Maybe we should take up the belt of truth and not use truth like a bat to be wielded?
As we choose to withhold our judgment of other Christians we may find ourselves inadvertently aligning ourselves more closely with God’s purpose; after all, God may be up to more in that person’s life than we first imagine. Who knows, maybe God is working in us too?