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In meetings for worship, Friends sit together for an hour, often without anyone saying a thing. Ideally, the silence should flow over into business meetings and into everyday life, where a spirit of peace and quiet prevails. In the next few articles we consider the general subject of quietness, and then relate it to forms of prayer, listening to God, and escaping the busyness of life.

When Elijah wanted to hear from God, God said he must be quiet (1 Kings 19:11-12). God wants to teach us the strength of quietness (Isaiah 30:15). When you know you are right, you do not need to argue (Luke 23:8-11). And if you are not right, you should be quiet, to learn from others, and to save yourself embarrassment. Mostly we need to listen to God (Psalm 46:10). If we listen to God, he will take away the noises of the world and give us peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

The world today is not listening to God, and it is full of noise and confusion. The word Babylon is used in the Bible for the plans and governments of the world. It means "confusion" and it is the opposite of spiritual quietness. Doing little things like leaving a television, radio, or stereo on when you are not listening to and thinking about what it is saying adds to this spirit of confusion. If you are not listening, the best music in the world may only be noise and confusion (1 Corinthians 14:7). When many people are living close together like we do in our communities, it is important to do all that we can to stop noise, so people around us can work quietly and confidently (2 Thessalonians 3:11-12).

If people do not have God's spirit of quietness, they will argue and talk over others when they are talking (James 3:16). Some people do this so much that they do not even know they are doing it. Listen to a group of people talking and see how two, three, or more will talk all at the same time. They do not listen to the others because they do not have God's spirit of quietness and confidence (Acts 19:32). If we can be spiritually quiet ourselves, we can teach some of these people to be quiet too. At times people cannot put their finger on it, but when they see many of us working together quietly they know something is different about these people, and they know that it is a very special quality.

A little foolishness can destroy the strength of spiritual quietness (Ecclesiastes 10:1). When foolishness begins, it looks safe; it even looks friendly. But foolishness is like a prostitute. It reaches out to you so that it can destroy you (Proverbs 7:4-5, Proverbs 7:10-11). Today we call foolishness "comedy" or a "sense of humour", and we can listen to it for many hours each day on our televisions. Many movies also use foolishness to fill people's time.

These things are called "amusements". The word "muse" is another word for "think", and the whole word means "things that make us stop thinking". A wise person will look for ways to make people think about serious things. But a foolish person does just the opposite. Sometimes there is a serious lesson in a humorous situation. We should look for these lessons even when others are just being foolish. But most foolishness is only a waste of time.

If we are saying things and we do not have a good reason for saying them, they are "idle" words. Jesus says that God keeps a list of each idle word that we say (Matthew 12:36-37). You should ask yourself before you talk, "Is this needed?" If it is not, then do not say it. When you do this, you show that you are a very wise person. (James 3:2, James 3:13)

When you are talking about your faith to other people, it is important to know if people are listening before you speak. Some people think they are "witnessing" for God when all they are doing is showing how much they know about God and about the Bible. These same people usually think they know a lot about many things, but most people do not like to listen to such know-it-alls (James 3:1).

Jesus tried to stay away from arguments (John 7:1-3), and at times he would not talk to people at all, if they were not listening as they should (Luke 23:9). It is foolish to argue (Titus 3:9).

Sometimes Jesus used stories to teach. It is hard to argue with a story (Luke 8:10). Listeners need to think before they can understand what the story is really saying.

These are ways to move away from noise and arguments. In all that you do to stop arguments and to help others to think, a quiet spirit will be a big help. Spend time each day, being quiet before God.

(See Know-It-Alls, and Buying Time.)

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