“A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
At times, it can be difficult to stay quiet, yet there are situations when it is best to say nothing. As kids, it can be hard to stay quiet while voicing our opinion and our thoughts, but as we get older, we become more aware of the times and situations when silence is life-saving, even life-giving.
Check out six situations when it’s best to keep your lips sealed:
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1. When You Are Mad
A common situation where it’s best to stay quiet is when you are mad. Whenever you get mad and feel anger boiling in your blood, it’s best to simmer down before you say anything. Speaking while you are mad and angry can cause you to say things that you don’t mean or things that you will regret later. When you speak in the heat of the moment, it is easy to say something that you wish you could take back.
It is best to pause, wait, and cool down before you utter one word when your emotions are so volatile. If a situation has made you extremely mad, stay quiet and leave the situation. It is best to stay quiet than to say something that you wished you hadn’t once your emotions settle. I know I have made the mistake of speaking up when I am mad, and, honestly, I never say anything that is helpful or brings healing when I'm in this state of fury.
Instead, my words only add more hurt to the situation and increase my anger. When you are mad, find quick tips to shift your brain from the words you want to spew and focus on simpler thoughts like counting to ten, finding the natural sunlight in the room, remembering the way someone went out of their way to be kind to you today, etc.
2. When Others Are Gossipping
A second situation when it’s best to stay quiet is when others are gossiping. Gossiping is never a good habit to pick up. The Bible repeatedly teaches against the practice of speaking ill will about our brothers and sisters. Proverbs 20:19 tells us, “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much.” In the same way, Proverbs 18:8 says, “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.”
Gossip has no part in a believer’s life. When others are gossiping, it is best to stay quiet. In fact, it is best to totally leave the situation if possible. Most times, gossip is not true, so it’s best not to participate in it and stay quiet instead. Think about when you have been a victim of gossip. You most likely didn’t feel very good about it, and you were probably upset—rightfully so. Think about this when your friend circle is gossiping about someone. Choose to remain quiet and leave the situation.
3. In Arguments
A third situation when it’s best to stay quiet is during arguments. Similar to the point of not speaking when you’re mad, you should not speak during an argument. Arguments are often filled with turmoil mixed with emotions and hurtful words. It is best to stay quiet in these situations in order not to say anything hurtful to the other person. Even if you are upset, it’s best to stay quiet and wait until your mind and spirit are in a healthy place to have a healthy, rational, peace-making conversation instead.
Staying quiet can be extremely hard during arguments, especially when you are not the one who started the argument. However, it is best to stay quiet in these situations because you are training yourself to be better at controlling your emotions. In turn, this continual practice will reward you with the peace of mind that you haven't taken any jabs or low-blows at someone in the heat of the moment.
Staying quiet is worth it, especially if it will preserve your relationship with the other person. While it is hard to be quiet during arguments, try your best to remain calm and only speak when both parties are in a healthy place and ready for respectful conversation.
4. When You Don’t Have Evidence
Another situation when it’s best to stay quiet is when you don’t have evidence. In certain situations, like accusing someone of something, it’s best not to say anything if you don’t have evidence. By not having proper evidence, you don’t know if your accusations are true. It’s best to stay quiet unless you have evidence for your claim.
If you think a loved one has done something wrong to you or against you, it’s best not to accuse them unless you have evidence. If you are concerned about something, it’s best to talk with your loved one and share your concerns, but you should not accuse someone of doing something if you have no evidence to support your claim. In order to avoid friction and false accusations, it is best to ask questions rather than make claims that aren't facts yet.
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5. When You Have Nothing to Say
A fifth situation when it’s best to stay quiet is when you have nothing to say. If you’re like me, often you don’t have anything to say at parties or social events. I’m an introvert to the core, so it’s hard for me to speak at all. In situations when you have nothing to say, it’s best to remain quiet. By speaking when you have nothing to say, it could cause some awkward conversations to ensue feelings of embarrassment.
There is nothing wrong with having nothing to say. Often, in our modern-day social media wars, we are taught an individual is “weird” or “too passive” if they don't say anything, but that’s not true at all. Sometimes the best thing to do is stay quiet and not create conversation for the sole sake of meeting a social standard. By refraining from speaking when you don’t have anything to say, it can save you a lot of embarrassment and awkwardness.
6. When Your Words May Hurt Someone
A sixth situation when it’s best to stay quiet is when your words may hurt someone. Similar to speaking when you are mad or are in an argument, it is best to avoid speaking when you think or know your words are going to tear others down. I know from personal experience when I chose to say something without thinking through how it would resonate with others, I ended up saying something that hurt the other person. Even if someone has said something hurtful to us, it’s not right to say something hurtful back.
Hurtful words really do hurt and cause scars that form in our minds. Often, other people’s hurtful words can cause long-lasting scars on our hearts and minds that don’t improve with time. It is best as believers to remain quiet in situations when we feel we are going to say something that will hurt another person. No point, discussion, or argument is worth damaging someone else's soul. It is best to remain quiet in these situations and by doing so, you will bring glory to God.
The Lord knows staying calm and quiet in these situations can be hard for us, but He can help if we ask Him. In fact, He delights in help us. There is nothing wrong with asking for help from God. He can help stay quiet in situations when it is best to not say anything. If you are in doubt about staying quiet, consult God in prayer and ask Him to guide you.
Originally published Tuesday, 31 May 2022.