Job 32:1 and Knowing When to be Quiet

silenceThroughout the Book of Job, we see Job’s three friends try to convince Job that he ought to repent from the sin he obviously must have committed; for then God would bless him once again. These three friends give Job advice that they thought was good and sound. In fact, these three thought they were very wise and were the perfect people to help Job out of his miserable situation.

Because we know the rest of the story, we know these three were not wise at all. Yet there are two instances when they did show true wisdom. The second instance was this verse:

These three men stopped answering Job because he thought he was righteous [or righteous in his own eyes].

When someone is convinced they are correct, there is no need to continue to try and point out they are incorrect on something. People who are absolutely convinced something is not a sin will rarely, if ever, be convinced by argument that it is a sin. Or, as the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” These three had shared with Job what they could, and when Job did not respond favorably, they stopped talking. This was wise.

The first place they showed wisdom was when they first arrived and sat with Job in silence for seven days. In the midst of suffering and pain, sometimes the best thing to do is not speak, but simply be present with the one suffering.

There can be great wisdom in knowing when to keep quiet. Much pain and argument can be avoided by keeping our words to ourselves in certain situations. It takes discernment from God to know when to speak and when not to speak, but it is a gift God will give to those who ask for it.

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