Read Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:1-10; Ephesians 4:29
For the last few weeks, I have been thinking about James Holzhauer and his run on Jeopardy. Though it was quite a ride, on June 3, 2019, Mr. Holzhauer was finally defeated in his 33rd appearance by Emma Boettcher. He almost broke the record, held by Ken Jennings, for the most money won by a contestant. What I didn't know is that the program that was seen last Monday was taped on March 12, 2019. So, for approximately 2 1/2 months, neither contestants, family members or anyone in the studio audience leaked the details of when Holzhauer would finally lose. In a world where information gushes out of people's mouths like a geyser, I think that's amazing. I'm really glad no one told because it would have spoiled the fun of watching and wondering if he would win or lose on any given day. Pondering how well everyone kept quiet about the outcome of a game show was a challenging thought for me. There are definitely times that we too should be quiet, and if they can do that, we can too.
Let's take a peek into what the scriptures have to say concerning our using fewer words:
1. When God Shows Us Something That Is Between Himself And Us (at least for a time). In Matthew 17:1-9, we read about a wondrous event in Jesus' life. He, along with Peter, James and John had gone to be by themselves. All of a sudden, they weren't alone. The disciples saw Jesus in a glorious form, and He was talking with Moses and Elijah. What an amazing thing to observe. Yet, in Matthew 17:9, Jesus commanded the disciples that they were not to share what they saw until after His resurrection. We remember what these men were like. They, like the other disciples, often sought prominence for themselves, Mark 9:33-34; Matthew 20:20-28. Although there isn't any way to know for certain, isn't it probable that they wanted to tell the others what they had seen? After all, they had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event.
How about us. No, it isn't likely that we have seen Jesus transfigured, but sometimes, the Holy Spirit enlightens us with truth to share. On these occasions, we should share the encouragement or the warnings, but we want to be careful that we have God's timing, Proverbs 25:11; Proverbs 15:23. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, even when we have good words to say. At other times, God gives us truth is meant for us for a season, or maybe for a lifetime. After all, He is our Abba Father, and there are things that are between Him and us, His children. These truths, applied to our own lives are gifts from Him.
2. When A Brother Or Sister Shares A Confidence. Before I continue, I need to say that I am not talking about a person's sharing that he has committed a crime or the woman who has confided the fact that her children are in danger. There are legal and appropriate ways to deal with circumstances of this kind. What I mean here is when someone gives information about a struggle, a weakness or a past failure and asks that we keep it in confidence. It might be something that doesn't even seem that significant to us, but it is to our friend. If we tell someone, and it gets back to the one who trusted us, a friendship can be damaged or even ruined. The choice is ours. Our words or the absence of them can protect or tear down, Proverbs 17:9; Proverbs 16:28.
Many years ago, two ladies I know had their friendship greatly tested by the careless words of a person who should have been trustworthy. Thankfully, the damage wasn't permanent, but the pain that was brought about by what was said was totally unnecessary. When we know something, even a small detail, we are often tempted to let it slip to "just one person". It is akin to reaching into the potato chip bag and holding out just one more chip, Proverbs 26:22. We show our love to one another when we refrain from sharing the truth that was entrusted into our care.
3. When We Don't Know What To Say. For this picture from the scriptures, we return to Jesus' being transfigured. This time from a different account, Mark 9:1-10. Don't we love Peter? Oh yes, it is because we have walked in his shoes when we run off at the mouth. Mark 9:6 tells us why Peter spoke. He didn't know what to say; so, he evidently said what came to mind. Now, in this case, no harm was done. However, sadly this isn't always the case. I know that there have been instances when I didn't know what I could add to a conversation; so, I simply put in my two cents worth. Even if no harm was done, when my comments didn't add anything substantive to what was being said, what useful purpose did they really serve? Words are a precious gift, and it is a good thing to use them wisely.
We often think of Ephesians 4:29 when we ponder words. The first part speaks about the kinds of words we shouldn't be speaking. Words that are like spoiled meat or fruit. Instead, our words should build up and hold out grace. That means that words that simply come out of our mouths for no purpose aren't the kind God wants us to share. May the Lord not only guard our mouths, Psalm 141:3, but may He give us words that lift up and show grace. Gracious words are the kind that everybody needs. Telling others that they are known, seen, precious and loved by God, Genesis 16:7-13;1 Peter 1:18-19, is a worthy replacement for the words that are better off unsaid.
Lord, Thank You for the precious gift of words. Help us to spend them wisely.