Silence has been on my mind for a while now. I know others like myself are wrestling with it. Do we keep our peace in order that we preserve the status quo? Or do we speak, knowing that others may question our intentions and motivations, speak ill of us, and ignore us?
Silence is not always golden:
“For when good people speak, there are two points that they regard in their discourse (viz., that they should be of use to themselves and their hearers, or to themselves alone), if they are unable to be of use to their hearers. For when the good things they deliver are heard with good purpose, they benefit both themselves and their hearers. But even when they are turned to ridicule by the hearer, doubtless they were of use to themselves, by no longer consenting to the sin of silence. And so let blessed Job, that he might serve both himself and his hearers, speak the words, “Hear, I pray you, my speech, and practice repentance.” In order that he may discharge himself of the obligation that he owes, even if he is unable to avail his hearers, he adds, “Suffer me that I speak; and after my words, if it shall seem so, laugh.” I observe that whereas he added, “and practice repentance,” he first premised, “Hear,” but when he added the words “and after my words, if it shall seem so, laugh,” he premised, “Permit me to speak”; for “hearing” is of one who acts of free will, but “bearing” of one who acts against his own inclination. And so if his friends desire to be taught, let them “hear,” but if they are ready to mock, let them “suffer” the things that are said seeing that to a proud mind instruction in humility is a grievous and onerous weight. MORALS ON THE BOOK OF JOB 15.41.1
There is indeed a time to be silent, but there is likewise a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3.7). How do you know that time?
- Manlio Simonetti and Marco Conti, eds., Job (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 112–113. ↩