“Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.”
Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
Exodus 14:14 (NKJV)
I watched with great humor as Coach Herm Edwards was offering advice to a group of rookies coming into training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs. He warned them that in the age of social media, it is incredibly tempting to post things on social media or by text or email that may seem right in the moment, but later will prove difficult to defend.
Let’s be honest. This is true for everyone. Social media is riddled with people working out their personal issues in a public forum, attempting to garner sympathy, right an injustice or simply tear someone else apart. We watch as people make bold statements in the heat of an emotional political season. We witness embarrassing barrages of anger and rage from a jilted ex-husband toward his ex-wife. We attempt to decipher coded verbiage of a wounded spirit trying to accuse someone else without actually coming right out and saying what they really want to say.
Social media, text messaging, email all offer cover from direct confrontation. Suddenly, the meek become bold, the bold become bolder and the angry go over the top. Words are often communicated that most would never have the guts enough to say directly to the recipient’s face. Too often, thoughts are communicated that the sender regrets later.
Admit it. Haven’t you pushed “send” and wished you could retrieve the message the second it left your finger? In the immortal words of Rush Limbaugh: “Words mean things.” In the incorruptible words of holy scripture, words can build up and words can tear down. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” (Msg)
Today’s exhortation is simply, “Don’t push send!” If you must write the long, rambling email in response to an insult, then write it. You might feel better. It is wonderful therapy. But don’t push send. The proverbial “grapevine” has delivered to you a hurtful accusation based in half-truths and innuendo. Don’t respond even when every fiber of your flesh is crying out to cut loose. Remember, when you step into the flesh, you leave the realm of grace.
I’m a pastor. Early in my ministry as a worship pastor, I was given the gift of being able to “not respond.” I’m not sure why…but I’ve always been able to hold my tongue, listen intently, then…let it go. (One MUST learn this skill to deal with musicians.) Much of the time I did not respond to an accusation because I knew it would harm someone else and could harm the church.
You see…Silence is powerful. Silence doesn’t tell stories. Silence doesn’t spread gossip. Silence doesn’t speak ill-will. Silence protects. Silence conceals. Silence covers “backsides.” The ability for a pastor to hold such confidence is absolutely vital to his or her success. The ability for any follower of Christ to do so reaps untold rewards. (And…if the truth be made known…it really bothers the accuser when they don’t get a response. So…that’s a bonus!)
However, I believe there is more to it. I believe it’s what God wants from us. Certainly there are proper moments to confront, to clarify and to “speak the truth in love.” But I have learned that silence goes a long way to victory and is often times the only path to personal peace in Christ.
Concerning those who have been falsely accused, lied about or diminished, I recently read: “Let your character speak! The fruit of your life will always outlive a lie. Godly character is the greatest defense.” I don’t suggest that you bottle it up and not “vent” when you need to. But be sure it’s with your spouse, a trusted friend or a pastor who can understand that they are simply helping you process the frustration and pain. But please…please…don’t retaliate. Don’t say something you will regret. Don’t carry someone else’s ignorance to others and allow it to place you in the unenviable position of becoming a gossip or talebearer.
Trust God…let it go. And whatever you do… DON’T PUSH SEND!