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The Strength of Quietness
J. R. Miller
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4
The Bible says a great deal about being quiet. The effect of righteousness, is quietness. The Shepherd leads His sheep by the waters of quietness. We are told to "study to be quiet," or to be ambitious to be quiet, as a marginal reading gives it. A quiet spirit in a woman is, in Gods sight—an ornament of great price. Then we are told that a secret of strength lies in quietness, "In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15.
So when we look into the matter, we learn that few things are so greatly praised or are so repeatedly encouraged in the Bible, as quietness. Quietness is a result—rather than a means. It indicates an attainment in the Christian life which can he reached only through certain spiritual experiences.
A deep truth lies here. Many people suppose that noise indicates strength; that the loud bombastic man is the strong one; that we are doing the most—when we make the most bluster and show. But this is not true.
In all of life, it is the quiet forces that have the greatest effect. The sunbeams fall silently all the day—yet what immeasurable energy there is in them, and what power for blessing and good! Gravitation is a silent force, with no rattle of machinery, no noise of engines—and yet it holds all the stars and worlds in perfect orbit with its invisible chains! The dewfalls silently at night when men sleep—and yet it touches every plant and leaf and flower with new life and beauty.
So it is in the calm, quiet life—that the greatest strength is found. The power that is blessing the world these days, comes from the purity and sweetness of gentle mother-love; from the quiet influence of example in faithful fathers; from the patience and unselfishness of devoted sisters; from the tender beauty of innocent child-life in homes; above all, from the silent cross—and the divine Spirit's breathings of gentle stillness. The noiseless agencies are doing the most to bless the world. There is strength in quietness.
If therefore we want to be strong—we must learn to be quiet. A noisy talker is always weak. Quietness in speech, is a mark of self-mastery. The tendency of the grace of Christ in the heart—is to soften and refine the whole nature. It makes the very tones of the voice more gentle. It curbs boisterousness into quietness. It represses angry feelings—and softens them into the gentleness of love. It restrains resentments, teaching us to return kindness for unkindness, gentleness for rudeness, blessing for cursing, prayer for scorn and defiance. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The love of Christ in the heart—makes one like Christ, for He was quiet. He was never flustered. He never fumed or fussed. He was never anxious or worried. He never spoke impatiently. His voice was never heard on the street. There was a calmness in His soul that showed itself in every word He spoke, in all His bearing.
We will do well to learn this lesson of quietness. It will keep us from outbursts of temper, and from saying the rash and hasty words, which an hour later we are sorry for saying, and which often make so much bitterness and trouble for us. It will enable us to be cheerful and patient amid all the cares and vexations of life.
Quietness is a blessed secret for wives and mothers in a home. It is impossible for any woman, even though her household life is ideally Christian and happy—to avoid having experiences which try her sensitive spirit. Probably the most perfect marriage, has its harsh incidents and its rude contacts, which tend to disturb a wife and give her heartache. It is hard for a man to learn to be so gentle—that no word or touch or act or habit or disposition of his—shall ever hurt the heart of the woman he loves. Nothing but a love which is patient, and kind, and not self-seeking, and not easily angered—can be silent and sweet—not silent and sullen—in any circumstances, can make even holiest wedded life what it should be. Blessed is the wife who has learned this lesson!
Every home, with its parents and children, presents problems which only quietness can solve. Tastes differ. Individuality is often strong. There are almost sure to be self-assertive spirits, in even the smallest family, those who want their own way, who are not disposed to do even their fair share of yielding. In some homes, there are despotic spirits. In the best, there are diversities of spirit, and the process of self-discipline and training, requires years before all the household can dwell together in ideal sweetness.
A German musician, with an ear exquisitely sensitive to harmony, soon after arriving in our country, visited a local church. But the singing was badly out of tune—jarring his nerves painfully. He could not courteously leave, and so resolved to endure the torture as patiently as possible. Soon he distinguished amid the discord one voice, the soft clear voice of a woman, singing calmly, steadily, and in perfect tune. She was not disturbed by the noisy voices of her companions—but sang on patiently and sweetly. And as he listened, one voice after another was drawn by her gentle influence into harmony, until the whole congregation was singing in perfect tune.
So it often is—in the making of a home. At first the individual lives are self-assertive, and there is discord in the household. It takes time and patient love—to bring all into harmony. But if the wife and mother, the real homemaker, has learned this blessed lesson of quietness; her life is the one calm, clear, true song—which never falters, and which brings all the other lives, little by little, up to its own sweet key, until at last—the life of the home is indeed a song of love!
Sometimes it is a daughter and sister in the home, whose quiet sweetness blesses the whole household. She has learned the lesson of patience and gentleness. She has smiles for everyone. She has the joyful tact to dissipate little quarrels, by her kind words. She softens the father's ill-temper when he comes in weary from the day's cares. She is a peacemaker in the home, a happiness-maker, through the influence of her own lovingness of spirit—and draws all into her own quietness and peacefulness.
These are familiar illustrations of the blessing of quietness. Wherever we find it in any life, it has a wonder-working influence. It surely is a lesson worth learning—which is better than the winning of a crown! But can it be learned? Can the blustering, quick-tempered, rash-speaking man or woman—learn to be quiet and self-mastered? Yes! Moses learned it, until he became the meekest of men. John learned it, until he became the beloved disciple, lying on Jesus' bosom. It can be learned by anyone who will enter Christ's school, for He says, "Come unto Me. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; and you shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:28, 29).
But quietness never can come through the smoothing of circumstances, so that there shall be nothing to trouble or irritate the spirit. We cannot find or make a quiet place to live in—and thus get quiet in our own soul. We cannot make the people about us so loving and sweet—that we shall never have anything to irritate or annoy us. The quietness must be within us. Nothing but the peace of God in the heart—can give it. Yet we can have this peace—if we will simply and always do God's will—and then trust Him. A quiet heart—will give a quiet life!
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