As I mentioned in a previous post – in 2015 it was about starting back at the beginning, so the beginning is Genesis in the Bible. This piece was inspired from my reading Genesis 42: 8-9.
Have you heard the expression ‘silence is golden’? There are times though when speaking and exchanging words is powerful and fun, like when sitting with friends and loved ones. Learning when to speak and when not to can be challenging. It can be difficult to learn when to be still and when to move. Well this seems to be the same for using our words versus not using them. I have myself had moments in my life when I wished I could “un-speak” the words. What are some of the times that it’s a good idea to be silent? What about when it would do someone and yourself harm, for instance to offend or to repeat gossip. We are all guilty of that probably but is it a good thing? PROBABLY NOT – if it hurts someone’s reputation – especially one they have spent a lifetime building.
Mark Twain stated it this way “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.(www.brainyquote.com).
Why are we always so concerned though with how we are viewed? When someone is in need and we keep silent, what does that really say about us?
When is it harmful to remain silent? How about when we could make a difference to bring healing to defend someone’s reputation?
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”― Martin Luther King Jr.(http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/11236-in-the-end-we-will-remember-not-the-words-of).
Those are powerful words. As I was researching today the power of when to speak versus when not to speak, I was led to that quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Very fitting, as today is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That had not even entered my mind. God works in amazing ways – leading us to exactly what needs to be spoken. Think about it – doesn’t it hurt to know others use words against us, but doesn’t it hurt even more to know our very heart connected friends have remained silent and went in the other direction and said nothing, in the presence of our enemies or at the very least and greatest – did nothing to defend who they knew we are. In a moment – did they even realize that it ripped years of a relationship apart for them to keep their mouth closed or worse – say one thing to those who were tearing us apart like lions and then remain silent in the wake of harm?
A relationship can end – quicker than hurtful words spoken. In that case, silence was not golden. It reduced everything to ash.
In the book of Amos, it was written. “A Call to Repentance …12For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes And turn aside the poor in the gate. 13Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.” http://biblehub.com/amos/5-13.htm
Or when it was written “English Standard Version They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth.”http://biblehub.com/amos/5-10.htm. Again, when someone is being somehow threatened is being silent helpful or hurtful? Have you heard the expression – don’t make waves? I heard that growing up as well as the expression – “don’t rock the boat” – meaning – keep silent – don’t make something worse by your words. That is true, when it causes harm or a rift – silence is probably best. Yet, silence is harmful when it doesn’t reach out to help the helpless or the oppressed.
What about those with virtually no voice – very young babies or the elderly – or even the sick?
So when someone doesn’t speak up for friends being attacked or those being oppressed or the young or the elderly or the sick what does that say? It almost speaks rather loudly doesn’t it that “I’m more concerned with self and self preservation than assisting those in need”? It’s almost like saying “I would rather be silent, the popular vote, than stand against what I see someone is doing to another – just in case it causes me grief to do so.”
What would you do? How have you stepped in and spoken up or sat in silence?
Jesus was both loud at times and silent at times also. Jesus was loud when he threw the money changers out of the temple, (Matthew 21:12) turning things over, yet in the face of his accusers he was silent. (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+14%3A53-65&version=NASB;PHILLIPS) Jesus sat quiet in the face of his accusers however. Jesus saw the bigger picture – to defend us, in this case – because He knew the plans – that would save us. He defeated evil and he will defeat it for good when He returns.
I can imagine – He will not be silent then!
Yes, there are many instances in the bible when Jesus on purpose chose to be silent and those times he didn’t hold back. We see him in history speaking out for the oppressed – to bring wholeness and healing, speaking out for and to the broken to give them hope and to end suffering.
So what about us – shouldn’t we speak out to help the oppressed, the hurting, the fearful, the down-trodden, or when to do so would bring wholeness and healing, to help the broken and to give someone hope or to help end their suffering?
In summary – it is best to speak when it brings wholeness or healing and to remain silent – if it tears down or harms others. How do you gauge your speaking out versus remaining silent?