Such a wrenching riddle: when to speak, and when to remain silent. Who to speak to and who to be very careful not to.

The power of death and life is in the tongue. That’s what Proverbs’ wisdom says, as does James in his epistle, warning about the power of the tongue. And many/most, maybe all of us need to be much more careful about speaking than we are. So much evil, so much harm can come from hateful and thoughtless or contrived and cunning words.

And then there’s another hazard of talk:

Loose lips sink ships,” said the WWII motto.

There’s a corollary to that: “Loose tweets sink fleets!” 

The thing is, we can’t always readily identify the enemy. Of course they’re out there, able to read Twitter feed, but they may also be living right next to us. They may be sitting in the pew next to us. They may even be sleeping in our home with us. But we don’t want to believe that; so we can get very careless, and unwittingly blab whatever we think we know when it’s best some toxic people don’t hear it, and seize our “information” to hurt someone else, or even ourselves.

So keeping mum can be vital. Some talk can make certain people unsafe.

On the other hand, some secrets kept silent keep some people unsafe. Some silence hides serious harm, deep wounds, hidden abuse, and destruction of hearts and souls.

When to keep silent and when to speak? So hard to know. Listening first, as James advises, seems crucial, and I believe he means listening to God foremost, as I pay attention to his words’ context.

So I am listening and considering. Then, perhaps I’ll speak…


Linked to Five Minute Friday/”Speak.”


6 thoughts on “When to Speak, When to Keep Silent

  1. Sylvia, it’s great to see you back here again, and I love your saying: “loose tweets sink fleets!”
    Words do have great power- it is so important (but definitely not easy) to try to use them wisely and to discern when it is time to speak and when we need to remain silent.

    1. And it’s good to see friendly you again, Lesley! Hope to be sticking around a bit more often now–and not remaining *entirely* silent! 😉

  2. I agree, there are times to be silent – – and as we “Listen” to God’s voice we can speak from HIS heart – and we will be safe.

    1. Yes, Hazel, such a good thought. You are reminding me of this quote I recently read that has really stuck with me: “A word with power is a word that comes out of silence. A word that bears fruit is a word that emerges from the silence and returns to it.” (Henri Nouwen) It’s speaking of words with true spiritual power that emerge from just such time with God, and I believe it’s great truth.
      Thanks for visiting and commenting. It’s good to “see” you again!

  3. Sylvia, you’re so right, that we have to keep a sense of perspective on when to speak.

    In light of recent events in the US, many have chosen to speak out, thinking that they were in the right, but have only fanned the flames of discord.

    The only way to displace hatred is with love. Words mean nothing; actions mean everything.

    And if I may say this…you share a name with one of my service dogs, and if you care to drop by my blog you can see her picture.

    #2 at FMF this week

  4. Yes, Andrew, it’s so easy to blurt out what seems a much-needed comment that can just stir up the pot worse than ever. A true word of love, on the other hand, originates from the God of love, and it will generally be spoken more clearly through actions than audible syllables. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. And, BTW, I have visited your site and seen the picture of your dog, and laughed aloud when I learned her name! (I never knew of any other dog named that!)

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