When Silence Isn’t Golden

We’re all familiar with the phrase “Silence is golden”. This proverb dates as far back as ancient Egypt, making reference to the importance of keeping quiet under certain circumstances. The first example of it being used in English is credited to the poet Thomas Carlyle in 1831. Certainly there are times when silence is the better option than speaking up:
• If a matter being discussed or the situation occurring does not involve me, then it may be in my best interest not to comment on it.
• How often do we debate issues that have little if any importance? To do so may lead to an argument, fighting, or a breakdown in the relationship.
• There are also times when one has discussed an issue ad infinitum to which there is nothing new to add. To rehash old news is time-consuming, exhausting, and counterproductive.
• “If you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.” This adage has served me well over the years. Why say something unkind when silence will suffice and prevent hurt feelings from occurring? Sarcasm, gossip, or so-called constructive criticism can all be avoided in order to preserve the other person’s feelings and the integrity of the relationship.

However, there are times when it is completely appropriate and absolutely necessary to say what is on your mind. Silence is never golden under the following circumstances:
• When one witnesses an injustice occurring. It is essential to stand up to right a wrong or to protect the innocent party.
• When one is being mistreated, abused, unjustly accused of a wrongdoing, overlooked, ignored, or otherwise treated in a way that is unsafe, hurtful or disrespectful.
• When doing so brings an important issue to the forefront so it may be discussed and remedied.
• When an issue must be discussed to gain clarity into the matter so that one may better understand what has taken place and/or why and in doing so be better equipped to handle it.

In addition to the above mentioned scenarios, there are other avenues when remaining silent is never advisable. They are:
• When presented with the opportunity to pay someone a compliment, either directly or indirectly (i.e.: relaying it from another source) or to show one’s appreciation to another.
• Saying “thank you”, “I love you”, or “I’m sorry – please forgive me.”
• To offer encouragement or hope to one who would benefit from hearing it.
• Sharing one’s wisdom and knowledge so that others may benefit
• When professing one’s faith and love of God.

Saying what’s on you mind can have major benefits if you remember the following guidelines: it is important to speak to the correct person, at the appropriate time, in a respectable manner, and with the right intent. Keep these simple points in mind and both silence and your voice can be golden when used judiciously. Lord, let every word I speak be a reflection of your love.

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