“Open your mouth only if you are going to say something more beautiful than silence.”
I saw that quote awhile back on the internet with no attribution to who said it and it stuck with me for some reason. Perhaps because we live in a world where words are a dime a dozen; everyone speaks their mind in abundance on Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets. Words have lost their beauty and their profundity and, really, their value. We scan through posts as fast as possible, without really stopping to read them. Short, pithy “posts” are far more popular than longer, more archaic “articles.” And it’s not that longer writings are “better,” but it seems that the volume of writings has distracted us from those which are indeed “better” and worthy of reading, some of which happen to be longer than the typical 140 characters on Twitter. Our fast paced culture contributes to this as well – after all, who has time for reading someone else’s words unless it’s short and to the point? Not to mention that so many words just simply lack beauty. They are filled with hate and anger and judgment and condemnation. So many words are aimed at hurting rather than helping; at tearing down rather than building up. So many ugly words seem to consume our world, our relationships, our televisions, our news outlets, and our social media landscape.
I love this quote because it stands in absolute contrast to the way of our world and our culture. Everyone has a megaphone and unfortunately everyone seems to use it at full volume. How wonderful it would be to take a step back and just turn down the volume? How wonderful it would be to hear words that are simply beautiful and helpful and loving?
This isn’t just some ethereal, idealistic, ridiculous idea. The apostle Paul believed in this idea with all his heart. I love how The Message version translates Ephesians 4:29: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” According to the bible, and contrary to public opinion, our calling as Christians is not to be a giant megaphone or a giant mouth called to condemn the world of its sin, but rather to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, and a mouthpiece for His love, respect, mercy, and grace in a world that needs a lot more beautiful words than it has. People will recognize this kind of counter-cultural strangeness, and God will work through it. When words are unhelpful, its best to stay quiet and let silence speak louder than words.