It never did, and never will,
Put things in better fashion,
Though rough the road, and steep the hill,
To fly into a passion.

And never yet did fume or fret
Mend any broken bubble;
The direst evil, bravely met,
Is but a conquered trouble.

Our trials___did we only know___
Are often what we make them;
And mole-hills into mountains grow,

Just by the way we take them.

Who keeps his temper, calm and cool,
Will find his wits in season;
But rage is weak, a foaming fool,
With neither strength nor reason.

And if a thing be hard to bear
When nerve and brain are steady,
If fiery passions rave and tear,
It finds us maimed already.

Who yields to anger conquered lies___
A captive none can pity;
Who rules his spirit, greater is
Than he who takes a city.

A hero he, though drums are mute,
And no gay banners flaunted;
He treads his passions under foot,
And meets the world undaunted.

Oh, then, to bravely do our best,
Howe’er the winds are blowing;
And meekly leave to God the rest,
Is wisdom worth the knowing!

– “Keep Your Temper” by Ellen P. Allerton

The art of remaining calm in the face of adversity is one of the most challenging skills to learn in life…and one of the most rewarding. As Mrs. Allerton aptly pointed out, losing one’s temper does not positively affect negative circumstances, but only serves to make us look and act the fool. Those who can keep their cool (even when being sorely mistreated) are wiser and stronger than the mightiest warrior.

If you struggle with these temper temptations, today’s lesson is for you. The title, Hold Your Peace, is a bit of a double innuendo. To hold one’s peace is to zip the lip. Put a lock on it. Clap the trap. In other words, it means to refrain from speaking. Yet there’s also a two-sided aspect of this phrase which I love: when you “hold your peace” (control your outward composure), you literally “hold your peace” (maintain your inner tranquility). And isn’t that unshakable internal serenity something we all would like to get a firm grip on?

Allow me to share with you the three steps involved in Holding Your Peace. If you can learn to follow these three steps when wronged, never again will anyone have the power to steal the peace that is in you.

The first step to holding your peace is to…

In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.

Francis Bacon, “Of Revenge,” Essays (1625)

The ability to pass over an offense is a virtue most people have in short supply. Instead of holding our peace when we are mistreated, our natural tendency is to return an attack on the culprit. (You know: “the best defense is a good offense”??) We might even feel justified in hurting those who hurt us…after all, don’t they deserve a taste of their own medicine? This may be worldly wisdom, but it is not the way.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. – 1 Peter 2:21-23

WWJD when people hurt Him? The above verse gives us a pretty good idea.

We have to Let It Be.

Now, here are a few things that Letting it Be is not

Letting it be is not approving of evil behavior. It is not condoning abuse. It is not clinging to toxic relationships. It is not outwardly giving the silent treatment and inwardly fostering hatred and bitterness.

Here’s what Letting it Be is

Letting it be is neglecting to participate in evil behavior. It is refusing to stoop to the level of an abuser. It is walking away from toxic relationships. It is staying silent out of strength and meekness, not spite and malice.

Next time you are mistreated, I challenge you to simply Let it Be. Don’t allow someone else’s sin to cause you to sin. Break the cycle! It may feel good in the moment to “sock it to ’em” when people hurt us, but it doesn’t pay. Far better is the feeling that comes with knowing that you had the inner resolve and strength of character to hold your peace. Stay soft and sweet. God will take special note of the innocent.

Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and He will save you. – Proverbs 20:22

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19

Has someone treated you like dirt? Let it Be. The second step to holding your peace is to…

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.

– Nelson Mandela

A good memory can be both a blessing and a curse. Women tend to be like elephants (in mind, not in midsection) – what I mean is, we never forget! And while this can be a great skill to have when memorizing the ingredients of our husband’s favorite dish, filing away dates and times for family appointments, or remembering our grandchild’s birthday, it’s not such a positive thing when it comes to recalling past offenses. We females have a tendency to recollect and ruminate on wrongs done to us…replaying the ugly records over and over in our mind and throwing ourselves a great big pity party.

As Nelson Mandela pointed out in the quote above, bitterness and hatred only serve to imprison us. Scripture says much the same thing:

…by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. – 2 Peter 2:19b

We have to Let it Go.

Now, here are a few things that Letting it Go is not

Letting it go is not denying the reality that you experienced pain. It is not saying that the person who hurt you is a swell individual. It is not repeatedly putting yourself back in harm’s way. It is not allowing toxic people to come back into your life without having changed.

Here’s what Letting it Go is

Letting it go is acknowledging the pain you experienced, but choosing to release it. It is realizing that forgiveness says a lot more about you than it does about your offender. It is both relinquishing the bad old memories and striving to avoid making bad new memories. It is having enough self-respect to distance yourself from those who continually mistreat you without repentance.

No matter how rotten we’ve been treated, it simply doesn’t serve us to dwell on past wrongs. As long as we are stuck in the past, we not only cease to grow into a new and flourishing future, but we actually grow into something ugly – we become dark and miserable humans who only think of licking our wounds. We don’t level up, we don’t think of being a blessing to others…instead it’s all “poor me”. Gross! Remember, we want to hold our peace, not hold our grudges.

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. – Isaiah 43:18

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31

Has someone treated you like dirt? Let it Go. The third and final step to holding your peace is to…

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.

Elisabeth Elliot

Trusting in the Lord is basically Christianity 101…yet when we are going through a trial, it’s easy to fall into despair. When the people who hurt us continue merrily along life’s path, never being held to task for their wrongs, never relenting in their pursuit of evil, and never meeting their demise, we may begin to feel like God has forgotten us or simply doesn’t care about our plight. I’m sure this is how the Israelites felt under harsh Egyptian bondage…I’m sure it’s how countless Jews felt under Hitler’s wicked regime…I’m sure it’s how many battered wives feel under the cruel hand of their abusive husbands. Of course God does not forget about us, nor is He apathetic about us. He cares deeply for each and every one of His children. However, He does not work on our time table:

But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:7-9

Our God is a God of justice, but He is also a God of mercy. He is a God who prepares a fiery judgment for the wicked, but He is also a God who extends an invitation for the wicked to repent. He is a God who says, “you’re finished”, and He is a God who says, “I’m not finished with you yet”. Did you ever consider that God sometimes “holds His peace”? He doesn’t always send fire and brimstone down upon every lowlife – not right away, even if that is the end goal. But we can be assured that His judgment comes in the right measure, at the right time. We need to have enough humility to accept that He will move when the time is right. We have to Let God Work.

Now, here are a few things that Letting God Work is not

Letting God work is not regarding our Lord like a genie in a bottle. It is not allowing our faith to rise and fall with each accepted or denied prayer request. It is not demanding for our will to be done. It is not taking revenge on our enemies while we wait for God to act.

Here are a few things that Letting God Work is

Letting God work is regarding our Lord as the sovereign King that He is. It is staying faithful whether or not He delivers us from our trials. It is humbly accepting His will, even if it does not align with ours. It is learning to let it be, to let it go, and to leave our eventual vindication in God’s hands.

Though we may endure hardship upon hardship in this life…though we may have our name slung through the mud as people lie about us, slander us, and false accuse us…though we may be abused and mistreated by those we show nothing but devoted Christian love to…still we will trust in Him. Though the hurt be profuse, we Christians are a hardy people. We pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off, and we get back in the saddle again. We cast our cares on Jesus…for we know that one blessed day, not too far off, we will enter a new age where we will be surrounded by fellow comrades for Christ, and the enemies of the cross will reign no longer. Our present trial will be but a distant memory, as we enter the Promised Land.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. – Psalm 37:7

Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. – Jude 21

Has someone treated you like dirt? Let God Work.

In conclusion…

How do you Hold Your Peace when you have been wronged?

You don’t “fly into a passion”. You don’t “fume and fret”. You don’t turn “mole-hills into mountains”.

Rather, you follow these 3 steps: You let it be, you let it go, and you let God work.

And above all, you…

May you be blessed, and remember to “forever hold your peace“.

For God’s glory,
Mrs. Dustin Bolks

Chaste Bolks is a church of Christ preacher’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.