Better to Say You Don’t Know than Give a Bad Answer by Jill Briscoe

Better to Say You Don’t Know than Give a Bad Answer
Jill Briscoe

Even when I’m old and grey do not forsake me oh Lord until I have declared your word to the next generation, your might to all that are to come (Psalm 71:16-18).

I remember writing in my 50s: “Old age lent the Spirit’s intelligence knows when to open its mouth!” Now, many years later, you would think I could give my mouth a rest and let the next generation do the talking. That is until you come across such verses as these; I took these verses for myself for life beyond the 50s and into the next leg of the journey.

Wisdom is spiritual street smarts – a spiritual intelligence given by the indwelling Spirit of God.

This ‘knowing,’ as the book of Ecclesiastes says, helps us to know the time for talking and the time to stop and keep our mouths shut. My mom used to say: “Least said; soonest mended. “God promises us His wisdom to know what and when to speak truth with grace into people’s lives and situations.

I’m a talker. That is what I do. That is what I’m asked to do. I like talking! But the problem is when you run around the world talking, people think you have an answer for everything. You must have, they reason, or people wouldn’t ask you to speak all over the place! The temptations to try to fulfill their expectations whether we know the answer or not! After all, we reason, Christians should always have an answer for peoples’ questions about life and faith – misreading of 1 Pet. 3: 15!

On 9/11, I was flying home from Russia and was diverted to Newfoundland. I spent seven days in a Salvation Army church there. There was nothing for those of us from United flight 929 to doubt talk as we waited to go home.

A young doctor who was sitting next to me on the plane set up a time with me in the Army hall after breakfast to continue a debate that had begun in the sky. We talked about the big issues of terrorism, good and evil, science and religion, the afterlife, etc. He gave me a run for my money. He was young, bright, a cheerful agnostic, and a thinker who didn’t buy my view of Scripture. I was old (all the little pockets in my brain that hold accumulated knowledge seemed to be full and unable to keep up with recent facts and figures).

I had told my new friend I was a convinced Christian, and I believed the Bible was true. This young man wanted to have serious conversations and was looking for some serious answers.

Each day I prayed hard, remembering that Christ who lived within me was my wisdom. I set about doing my best with the answers he was obviously expecting me to have, having heard me articulate my faith in Christ. I struggled to convince the young man of the truth about God and the gospel. Of course, he wanted to question my understanding of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God.

“I ...

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