Let us resolve–first to attain the grace of silence; second, to deem all fault-finding that does no good a sin, and to resolve, when we are happy ourselves, not to poison the atmosphere for our neighbors by calling on them to remark every painful and disagreeable feature of their daily life; third, to practice the grace and virtue of praise.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Recently our family was hit with some pretty mean and over-the-top words. The outpouring of just plain filth was pretty amazing and the amusing (and very sad) thing was that owner of said words claims to be a follower of the Lord. They were poured out onto print, even!
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
So, after the initial righteous indignation passed, my very wise husband said that we ought not to respond at all. After all, we were just as capable of shooting back. So, remembering how the Lord Himself was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously (1 Peter 2:23), we decided to do likewise and just committed the situation into the Lord’s hands by prayer.
Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Now I am reading in Joshua and found myself in chapter 8. I will tell you quite plainly that I plan to be a King James Bible Thumper until the day I die because over and over again God is right there to teach me no matter what my circumstances are through whatever passage I happen to be on. I carry no dictionary, no lexicon, no other study tools other than my concordance and it is enough.
So, in Joshua 8, I read how the city of Ai was taken. The men were drawn out of the city to follow part of Joshua’s army, and while they were away, the other half of the army was able to enter in unhindered and capture it.
Now I don’t know why this city was destroyed, and plenty of people would love to argue in circles about how the God of the Bible was an ogre. But I know God’s reasons for doing so were completely right, and just because I don’t know why (maybe they were eating their children for breakfast for all I know) doesn’t mean that it was wrong. That isn’t the point here.
What struck me is that the way the city was taken because (turning the situation around) I know the devil wants to take my family and my home and my marriage and my peace. I know the easiest way to give him a place to do so is to mentally leave my post and wrap myself up in somebody else’s sin and spin on their words and actions. Of course, then it is an easy road to forgo planning meals and instead sharpen my pen or mouth for battle.
The fool would not fall. But my home might.
After all, it wasn’t long before Joshua’s men decided to take matters into their own hands, too: Joshua 9:14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.
Basing my decisions to obey the Lord on how circumstances LOOK instead of checking in with Him always leads to a consequence I never intended. So, if the Lord by His example tells me to keep my peace (Matt 26:63) and keep the law of kindness on my tongue (Pro 31:26), I can depend on Him to take care of all manners of evil about me.
You know, there is a time to speak, and a time to keep silence. Both depend on the Lord’s leading. I think, however, we are far more eager to find reason to open our mouth in defense than we are to keep it shut in humility.
James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
Psalms 39:1 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.
Surrounded by those who constantly exhibit defects of character and conduct, if we yield to a complaining and impatient spirit, we shall mar our own peace without having the satisfaction of benefiting others.
Thomas Cogswell Upham
The Lord bless you.