Wisdom in Saying Nothing: 'Saying More by Talking Less'

The relational wisdom of silence

The Wisdom in Saying Nothing: Saying More by Saying Less.

I have learned that when on spiritual and theological “adventures and excursions” it is often relationally best to say little, or nothing. The deeper the plow of the cross goes into our lives, the less one usually has to say about it. Eternal jaw-jacking and yammering about this and that spiritual thing is neither spiritually wise nor relationally mature. It is lacking in relational wisdom. It is a form of self-centeredness: what I think and what I have to say is so important that  . . .  blah, blah, blah. No one is listening.

Anyone can be rhetorically eloquent about something “from the Bible.” Possessing the substance of the matter is another story, and usually involves a long process. You would not think of flying in a plane piloted by someone who had read a book about the laws of aviation, perhaps even memorized them, and could quote chapter and page numbers but never actually piloted a plane. Why? The person has correct information. Knowledge of a sort, yes, but substance, no–no real knowledge. True Biblical wisdom and knowledge is experiential, not just theory. It is the appropriation and manifestation of the life of Jesus in us and through us, not just the mental acquisition of more and more, mountain upon mountain, of never-ending Biblical information. 

Yet when it comes to the scripture, there is a lot of talk by people who have mastered the content of the Book, but do not possess the reality of what they have read. That includes Christian celebrities with a gift for oratory and organizational administration. We do not share based on the light we think we possess from the scriptures. Light in us must become life in us before it can become light in others. We share from the life (His) we possess, not the information we have accrued.

Light-Life-Light – That’s the way. The transformation of light to life happens  through the disciplines of the cross being worked into our life. Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit. This often requires that we keep our mouths shut for very long times, not letting excitement and enthusiasm get the best of us.

This is not a bondage thing. Among close friends, those who know us well (warts and all) and with whom we have deep trust, we can perhaps be more chatty about this or that, more exploratory in spiritual things.  But caution is still prudent even there. There is still relational wisdom in saying nothing or little,  or keeping the circle of “investigative theology” very small.

I like how the scripture describes Mary’s wisdom at the annunciation in this regard: She kept these things hidden in her heart. She said nothing. The deeper the “revelation,” the less likely I will be to talk about it. Often, much talk just has a diluting and relationally chilling effect.

“God told me this, God told me that, God showed me this, I got a download, I have a new revelation . . . etc.,” are all cliches we should avoid. The minute you say that, you are just projecting your insecurity into the conversation. People may be smiling at you while you speak, but you have just made yourself look superior to them, and there receiver is turned off. If you really have had a “God-encounter” of some kind, the fruit you bear will be self-evident to any discerning person. You don’t have to advertise the product. Anyone walking past a bakery or pizza parlor knows what is for sale. The aroma of the reality is the message. Hmmm . . .  seems I recall Paul saying something about the aroma we are supposed to have, not how well or how often we flap our lips at other people.

Also, too much talk is relationally obtuse. The minute you play the “God showed me” card on someone, you have just terminated hope of all normal human interaction. Others cannot differ with you or challenge you on what you think you received without walking all over your identity and sense of spirituality. After all, who can compete with God? That kind of language is childish and immature, even though (as a born and bred Charismatic myself), I know it is common currency in that universe. Use relational wisdom: avoid it, don’t say it. It just projects insecurity and discerning people can recognize it. 

In order to live in this realm of relation wisdom, we have to be deeply secure in ourselves, our identity, and our place in Him—to be quiet about deep things, to say nothing. It can be crucifying, but if we do not  embrace the wisdom of His death and resurrection in our lives, it will be like digging up a bulb you have planted.

If you planted a tulip in early spring, but every day you dug up to look at it, and talk about it, and show it to your friends, and talk about it some more, and examine it, and analyze it, and discuss it, etc., you are only hindering the process leading to the reality of a bloom. You will kill the very thing you are excited about. Much talk about deep spiritual things is the same. It produces spiritual death, even though you might be excited and passionate about whatever. Leave it in the ground. Yield to the death process that will eventually bring life and joy to others. Premature jabbering about spiritual things shows a lack of wisdom in human relationships.

Proverbs says: “Understanding in a person is like a deep well, and a person of understanding will draw it out.” That is, my heart is a fishing pond where others are free to drop their line. I don’t throw fish at them. I am not a fire hydrant spraying people with what I think I know or experience or what I think they need to hear. I am simply a well. If others do not drop their bucket into my well, I have no compulsion to share anything. I am at blissful rest.

Jesus is the example. So often He would say: “What do you want me to do for you?” Seems like a patently silly question to self-evident need. It was simply a signal that the lid was off the well. The “open for fishing” sign was on His soul. He was seeing if the person was ready to drop in the bucket and draw from His well. He only said and did what He saw His Father doing. He was not driven by the insecurities and needs that we so often seem compelled by, consciously or not.

Wisdom, as the scripture says, is justified of her own. So many in Christianity are biblically informed to varying degrees, but are deeply relationally dysfunctional at an interpersonal human level. Let’s practice some relational wisdom by saying less more often one with another.


Copyright 2018,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org. Would you like to partner with us in distributing our materials and perhaps generate some income for yourself?  Please go towww.stevecrosby.com for details of our Affiliate program. This ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those believe in the message of a radical grace in a new covenant understanding. If this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a contribution through our Paypal button to help? Stephanos Ministries is NOT a 501-c-3 corporation Click here to understand why. Thank you and God bless you

2 comments on “Wisdom in Saying Nothing: 'Saying More by Talking Less'

  1. Steve, not sure how long I have known you- but I have read much that you have written- and for me this is some of the best. Each paragraph would be a perfect template for discussion for church congregations, or small groups. I would like your permission to pass this on to my family and friends. The idea that our over zealousness can ‘terminate hope of all normal human interaction’, is a shameful reality and one we must guard against. There is so much more to be said for what human and spiritual constraints have brought to you by way of the Spirit- may your Journey in this field continue and reap a bountiful harvest for you.

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