For everything there is a season, and 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 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
Holding one’s tongue can be the right strategy at times. There is a time for 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. Given an opportunity to share a word of witness concerning our Lord, if we choose the path of silence, we conceal that which God has commissioned us to proclaim, and which men require if they would live.
Do you fear that if you speak a timely word, you might rend a relationship, create an offense, or incur the anger or scorn of the one with whom you speak? 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 in just the same way.
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 listen for the prompting of God’s Spirit, and, prompted, to obey.
Easier said than done, no doubt.
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 and proclaiming grace and truth. Don’t worry about planning out what you’ll want to say in every situation before you. The Spirit can provide what He wants you say (Lk. 12.11, 12). 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. Adapted from Colmán mac Beógnai, Aipgitir Chrábaid
T. M. Moore, Principal