Daily Riches: When Silence Is Better (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. So it is His work that we do for our brother when we learn to listen to him. Christians, especially ministers, so often think they must always contribute something when they are in the company of others, that this is the one service they have to render. They forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon no longer be listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words. One who cannot listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the point and be never really speaking to others, albeit he be not conscious of it. Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Speak only when your words are more beautiful than the silence.” Arabic Proverb

“[Job’s friends] sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights.
No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering
was too great for words.” Job 1:13

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you give others your ear as God gives you his?
  • Do you tend to think that by speaking you “contribute something” and that by listening or silence you don’t?
  • Can you trust God to use your silence as much as, or even more than, what you have to say?

Abba, may I trust your work in my silence as much as in my words.


For More: Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


This blog is for your encouragement. Thanks for reading! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)


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