He who does not denounce, agrees
He who does not forbid, commands.
He who is silent, conceals.
He who shares the deed will share the punishment.
- Aipgitir Chrábaid, Colmán mac Beógnai, Irish, 7th century
To everything there is a season,
A time for every matter under heaven...
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak...
- Ecclesiastes 3.1, 7
He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.
- Proverbs 17.15
Holding one’s tongue can be the right strategy at times. There is a time to keep silence.
But there are times when to keep silent is to become complicit in evil.
When we are confronted with blatant sin and refuse to speak up, we agree with sin and give encouragement to sinners.
When we refuse to question practices in our church which, while they may be ever so familiar and long-standing, have no Biblical basis whatsoever, we commend those practices and conceal God’s truth.
Given an opportunity to share a word of witness concerning our Lord, if we choose the path of silence, we withhold that which God has commissioned us to proclaim, and which people require if they would know eternal life.
Do you fear that if you speak a timely word, you might rend a relationship, create an offense, ruffle a feather, or incur the anger or scorn of the one with whom you speak? And what if you do? There is a time for even such things as these, as our Lord Jesus consistently showed.
The time to speak is upon us when the cause of Christ’s Kingdom and righteousness is on the line. We advance the Kingdom by words and deeds; we deny it, and impede its progress by want of timely words and loving works.
Certainly, when we speak, we must speak truth in love (Eph. 4.15), having our speech always seasoned with grace (Col. 4.6). We must seek always to edify, and not merely to condemn (Eph. 4.29). The gentle answer turns away anger and creates an opening for truth (Prov. 15.1)
But though we may consider silence or refusing to confront to be the “loving thing” to do, if we withhold truth, we are loving no one but ourselves.
The Holy Spirit has been given to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He shows us what is wrong, directs us toward what is right, and warns of discipline from our loving Father if we fail to amend our practice (Jn. 16.8-11). The key in learning when to speak, and how, is to follow the example of the Spirit, listen for His prompting, and, when prompted, obey.
Devote your speech to the Lord each day, and plead with Him to enable you to make the most of every opportunity for confronting sin, proclaiming grace and truth, or speaking a word of encouragement and edification. Don’t worry about planning what you’ll want to say in every situation before you. The Spirit can provide what He wants you to say at just the moment you need the words. (Lk. 12.11, 12). Just make sure that your mind is set and your heart is ready to speak the Word as God directs.
Be filled with Him, and with His Word, and learn to listen, listen for the still, small voice of the Spirit. He Who guides us into all truth can guide us into all appropriate speech – or silence – as well.
Psalm 139.23, 24 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Search my heart, O Lord, and know me, as You only, Lord, can do.
Test my thoughts and contemplations, whether they be vain or true.
Let there be no sin in me, Lord, nothing that Your Spirit grieves.
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord, unto everlasting peace!
Lord, let there be no unrighteousness in me, so that I might speak Your truth with love, as I ought to speak, especially today, as I…
Your Personal Mission Field
Jesus has sent us to the world to bring near the Kingdom of God – just as He Himself was sent (Jn. 20.21; Matt. 4.17). By mapping out your Personal Mission Field, you can make every day an adventure of seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God. Don’t wait any longer. Watch this brief video, download the worksheet, and get started working your Personal Mission Field today. Share the video with some friends, and encourage them to take up this calling and challenge as well.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 244.