The Wisdom of Silence

Michael Beck

“I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.” (Psalm 39:1,2)

As a young immature believer, Peter was known to put his foot in his mouth. He became wiser as he got older. In his second letter, he exhorts his fellow believers to diligently add certain qualities to their faith. (2 Pet. 1:5,6) One of the chief additions is temperance. We are temperate when we don’t let strong desire, passion, and emotion rule us. The temperate person is not apathetic or emotionless. He indeed feels very deeply about many things. But he is guided in what he says and does by wisdom. His mouth has a filter.

James tells us we can know a mature believer by how well he bridles his tongue. (James 3:2) Those who are intemperate in their speech deceive themselves and have a “vain” religion. (James 1:26) God deems all of us as worthy of a “bridle” on our mouths. Why? Because not everything that would come out of our mouths is true, necessary, or kind. Others don’t need a “piece of our mind.” We are called to be ambassadors for Christ. We don’t represent Him well when we don’t carefully seek His permission before we speak. Temperance keeps our hearts and mouths in check.

There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Only the temperate successfully walk that thin line.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.