Discernment in speech: “A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7
If you’re familiar with the late great Kenny Rogers then you likely know this popular refrain: You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run. The Gambler was so wise. There is indeed a time for everything, and this applies to how- and when- we engage with others. This in turn correlates directly with our peace.
As to the how, everything we say and do should be covered in grace and truth. And let me be clear: we need both. Speaking truth without grace will win over no one, and will only make us appear harsh and unloving. Yet, grace without truth leads us to have relationships founded on shifting sand. Jesus’ interactions with others was a perfect mixture of grace and truth. So much so, that they could not be separated from one another. As we read the words of our Savior, we can learn from and follow his great example.
Then there’s the when. Discernment is truly needed in this department! With our spouses, children, and on social media, we have to carefully choose our battles. As discussed above, in our homes both grace and truth must prevail. But, there are times when we must discern what to make a topic of conversation and what we can let go of (at least for a time). For example, if it’s a week I’m honing in on my daughter being responsible with putting away all the things she leaves scattered throughout the house, I might choose to not also engage her in the battle of practicing the piano. That battle can be fought another week.
And now a special word about the when of social media. I know it is beyond tempting to comment on posts we disagree with. We want to tell people how wrong they are and how right we are! We get emotionally charged and want to really lay it out there. Snarky, sarcastic comments flow freely in our minds ready to be unleashed with every scroll. But man, this does not lead to peace. That momentary satisfaction will likely only result in more discord and warring. A few weeks ago, I was in the beginning stages of writing part I of Pursuing Peace, and I was so tempted to make a comment on someone’s post. I initially resisted the temptation but then scrolled back up to go for it. But then I thought, “Seek peace and pursue it.” I had to ask myself, “Is making this comment on facebook going to lead me to peace with this person? To peace within myself?” The answer was a hard “no.” So, I left it.
For sure, there will be times and places to have hard discussions about difficult topics. Pray for the Spirit to give you discernment as to when to boldly speak with truth and grace, and to know when to be silent.