Silent Treatment

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.Proverbs 15:4

This proverb addresses communication, a means by which we can either connect to or disconnect from people.  People are generally aware that words can affect every aspect of a relationship but somewhat less conscious of the destructive effects of withholding words. This verse points out that at times people deviate from the normal or reasonable use of words, silent treatment falls into this perverse category. 

 Often times in relationships there are notions such as love means that one must never… exchange angry words nor share information that would cause the other party to worry or perhaps think that this is my problem, I need to deal with this not talk about it.  The concern here is that ideas like these can become the basis of purposeful silence, a technique often learned as a child. Unfortunately, for some adults ignoring, giving the cold shoulder, pouting etc. is still a way to deal with issues. However, I Cor. 3:11 reminds us that a certain level of speaking, thinking and reasoning is age appropriate for children; but adults must give up childish ways.

An individual may use various reasons to justify silent behavior; some even quote scripture to this end.  However, the intent of verses such as James 1:19 “…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” direct us to be considerate and thoughtful of issues so that our words are not angry, filthy, foolish, hurtful, mean or remiss etc.  As Christians, our words and behavior should be formed by the Word of God; Mathew 7:12 says “… in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”. Yet individuals who would not want their own spirits crushed (yes, some are Christians), use the silent treatment; a behavior that can harbor deceit, unreasonableness, stubbornness and even be a form of abuse. Although soundless, purposeful silence communicates, others are not important, or not part of a person’s life. Sadly, it is a way to manipulate others, dominate circumstances and implies that there is no compromise or possibility of working it out. In addition to this being self-defeating, contrary to one’s own best interest, it makes it difficult to live in peace and unity with others as the scriptures instruct. Relationships frequently suffer and break from misunderstanding, false assumptions, feeling disrespected, insecurity and a lack of trust due to missed opportunities to communicate.  

In contrast, the Bible instructs us to treat others better than we treat ourselves and to live in unity. Simply put, God has designed us to be in relationships; communication is fundamental to this interaction and fellowship with others.  Breaking a tendency for silent treatment requires both parties to develop new communication skills that will enhance the relationship.  We develop a gentle tongue that is like a tree of life by opening our ears, mouth and heart to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit so that we can exude words that promote healing, encouragement, trust, intimacy, understanding and love. Happy is the person that walks in Christ, and is led by the Spirit of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Von Crigler

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