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A couple of weeks ago I shared a recap from my sermon called Eloquent Silence. Jesus serenely remained silent when He was being falsely accused by those who wanted Him out of the way. Yet, His silence was eloquent and convicting.
We would do well to learn this lesson from our Savior.
There is a flip side to this: Sometimes our silence can signal compliance or acceptance of those who are speaking or perpetrating evil.
David wrote, “Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones? Do you judge uprightly, you sons of men? No, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh out the violence of your hands in the earth” (Psalm 58:1-2 NKJV).
Commenting on this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “It would be well, if people would sometimes pause and candidly consider this: ‘Do you indeed speak righteousness, you silent ones?’ Some of those who surrounded Saul were passive rather than active persecutors—they held their tongues when the object of royal hate was slandered. In the original, this first sentence appears to be addressed to them, and they are asked to justify their silence. Silence gives consent. People who refrain from defending the right are themselves accomplices in the wrong.”
Silence does have its place. King Solomon wrote, “He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:12-13 NASB1995). But to remain silent in the face of evil or falsehood could also be a sin.
Consider a few other wise words:
“No one wants to be thought of as holding to a ‘minority position’ on anything, so, rather than speak up in the face of many who are doing so, most will remain silent. This is where the Christian community finds itself at this time, trapped in a spiral of silence before a blustering but empty secular and unbelieving worldview. So it is very important that believers in Jesus Christ make the best use of every opportunity to talk about what is good and pleasing to God.” —T.M. Moore
“Don’t be a bystander, be on stand by. I will not allow a bully to bully others. I will not laugh at his jokes, I will not remain silent. I will stand up and say ‘Enough is enough.’” —Nick Vujicic
“As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concession to those outside the Faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.” —C.S. Lewis
“Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that really matter.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
When to speak up and when to remain silent is a huge issue for Christians. This is why we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit telling us when to hold our tongues and when to speak out boldly.
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