I once had a job interview where I was asked a question I did not know the answer to. I sensed it was a very important question. It would display my knowledge in a certain area. So I pondered the question for a moment. One of the interviewers held a pen to paper waiting to write down my response. I began to talk as if I knew the answer.
I thought if I said a lot about something I did know and a little about the actual question, I could bluff my way through. However, I am a Christian who is supposed to tell the truth. So I stopped and admitted I didn’t know the answer to the question asked. The interview went on but at that point, I knew I would not get the position. When I followed up with the chief interviewer about how I might strengthen future applications, this question and my lack of knowledge came up as a key deciding factor.
Should I have talked more? Should I have tried to bluff my way through? Though disappointed, I felt better about the bare truth instead of an overflow of words. We can sometimes conclude that speaking more will ensure we get our point across or others will understand.
Yet there is wisdom in fewer words. Proverbs 17:27 states – “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” The more we speak, the less we listen to others and the less informed we are. Proverbs 18:13 – “if one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” The more we say, the less people will listen if they have to wade through it all.
In addition, the wiser we are about some subject, the simpler and clearer your explanation. “Simplicity lies on the far side or complexity, after we have worked through the issues.” If we can’t be brief, we may not know enough about a subject to speak about it.”
I think about how Jesus remained mostly silent through His suffering and death. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7). He could have defended Himself endlessly to every charge. He could have argued circles around the religious leaders and their accusations. Yet he only said enough to ensure they would kill him. When the high priest asked, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” This clearly answered the question Yes and was a claim to divinity. Through these few words, Christ sealed His sentence and purchased our salvation.
“There is a time for silence and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). “Help us to know what time it is Lord, when it comes to our speech.”