The book of Job contains the shortest verse in the NIV. Job 3:2. Look it up… Right, now I’ve got that trivia out of my system, I’ll get on with blogging.
Recently, I’ve been spending time with my seven-year-old son, trying to extol the virtues of learning from others’ mistakes. He thinks this is a rather unfair approach (particularly when it involves his brother getting off lightly) but I think it’s a great way of doing things.
And I read Job and the thing that jumps out at me is not so much what Job’s friends did right, but what they did wrong. So we can learn from their example, but we learn more about what not to do rather than what to do.
Because it seems that maybe one mistake they made is simply opening their mouths. Indeed, Job says to them in 13:5,
“I wish you would just stop talking; then you would really be wise” (NCV)
Ironically, chapter 2 ends by telling us that they sat with him in silence for a week to start with. Though it would have made for a much shorter book if they’d never started talking… (Chapter 42 shows us that they’d also have saved themselves a bunch of bulls and rams!)
Silence is not simply showing resistance to using the tool of communication. No; silence is itself a tool. Because in silence, we can listen (and we won’t say anything stupid!) God’s own words don’t get much print space for the most part of the book (though Job and His friends spend a vast amount of time talking about Him). But when He does speak from chapter 38 on, it’s clear that what He says is worth listening to. Silence is the best option.
But this month, I’m not going to round things off with a ‘this is how Job applies in the digital sphere’. No, this month I’m going to ask if you have any ideas how this idea of silence might help us. Because it’s clear that we shouldn’t all close down our various accounts and keep our traps shut. But what do you think we should do when it comes to applying the discipline of silence to our online interactions? And, when they can’t see us, how do people know we’re being silent, and not just on holiday off-grid somewhere?
Comments would be most welcome (Yes, I can see the irony of asking for comments on a post on silence…)