The Discipline of Silence

Kristina Flour, Unsplash

Silence has been an important spiritual discipline since the birth of the church. It may be more important now than ever before, for two reasons—both related (unsurprisingly) to the challenges of living in a digital age.

First, the discipline of silence is so important because a digital age is also a distracted age. We carry little devices around with us that quite literally clamor for our attention. Needless to say, this will drastically inhibit our ability to listen to the still small voice of God whispering to us in the midst of busy days. Thus, by observing the discipline of silence—even for just a short period each day—we open ourselves up to the presence of God.

But second, by observing the discipline of silence, we train ourselves for the practice of love. That is, the discipline of silence is so important because a digital age provides an unprecedented number of opportunities and avenues to express our opinions (one thinks of social media especially). I hardly need argue that this hasn’t been good for us. Scripture routinely assumes we’ll sin more if we speak (type?) more. Proverbs 10:19 is as straightforward as any passage: “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” The more we speak, the more likely it is we’ll say something we shouldn’t have: deception, gossip, slander; harsh, proud, judgmental, obscene words—and the list goes on.

If we are likely to multiply sin when we multiply words, prudence would suggest we hold our tongues (and close our browsers) much more often than we do. Consider: how many people truly need to know your opinion about the latest cultural or political brouhaha? If the answer isn’t zero, it’s not far off zero either. Thus, by observing the discipline of silence—intentionally refraining from speaking—we are almost certainly training ourselves to love our neighbors better. We are less likely to hurt, offend, divide, etc.

Silence: an old habit for a new day. Give it a try.

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