Keep me from unkind words and from unkind silences. (Peter Marshall – the preacher, not the host of Hollywood Squares!)
Scripture frequently warns us about the use of our tongue. Most of us know how our words can either build others up, or rip them to shreds. But I had never given much consideration to the idea of “unkind silences.” I wish the late Marshall, one time Chaplain of the US Senate, was still alive to hear his thoughts on the matter.
Yet if we’re honest, we can all recall times when we used silence in an unkind way. For many years in our early marriage I took some pride in the fact that I was able to “hold my tongue” when I was angry. Yes, there is some merit in doing so. Yet looking back, I was doing a good deal of damage with my silence as well. In my calculated quietness I was sending messages every bit as much as if I were verbalizing them.
My wife and children undoubtedly heard my disapproval screaming through my silence. While I wasn’t actively pouring gasoline on an open fire, I wasn’t exactly dousing that fire with kindness either!
In addition to punishing others with our silence – refusing to talk to them, etc, I believe there are other times when silence can be unkind. For instance when someone does something worthy of praise, yet we refuse to give such praise. Perhaps someone got a promotion at work, but you wanted it, or believed someone else was more qualified, a failure to congratulate the winner could be unkind. You get the idea.
Take some time and consider what messages your silence may be sending. Are any of them unkind? –Dave
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
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