Most of us have heard the phrase “Silence is golden”, often used when it is thought that saying nothing is preferable and more advantageous than speaking. Certainly there are circumstances when this is true! For example it is wise to guard and control our words for safety reasons. Proverbs 13:3 “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” Silence is also better than speaking evil of others or filling our mouths with deceit. Most gossip and backbiting would be eliminated by heeding this word, plus we would be happier and healthier! 1 Peter 3:10 “He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” Then there are those intellectual people who find it necessary to share everything they know pertaining to a particular subject. Wouldn’t it be grand if they were more perceptive to notice people don’t care about ALL the details! Droning on and on is never a good idea! Proverbs 17:27-28 “He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.”
But then there are those times when we should speak up but don’t, believing silence is golden when in fact it is just plain yellow meaning we are cowards. For example, Christians are given daily opportunities in the company of believers and unbelievers alike to speak up and tell the truth in love by giving testimony of Jesus Christ, but choose silence instead. Most Christians have adopted the idiom “Actions speak louder than words” even though this is not the Word of God. Don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to be out there forcing our faith down people’s throats. But where is the love, the urgency, and the desperation to get the word out that Jesus is our Savior? What will it take for us to confront sin and compel people to come into the body of Christ to meet Him?
Resting in our slogans might make us feel better about our silence, even feeling justified, but it makes as much sense to refrain from telling people truth as it does to light a lamp in a dark room to find our way around but then put it in the closet. It is still lit, but it does us no good! Instead we are to let our light shine so people see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:15-16). Believe it or not, letting our light shine and good works often includes speech! Simply “acting” like a Christian with no testimony is as wrong as saying right things and doing wrong. Jesus is not looking for His disciples to “act” loudly like Him but remain silent about Him! But neither does He want us to “speak” His praises loudly and act like the world. People won’t hear unless we speak! It doesn’t matter if they like what we have to say, get angry, go silent, revile or persecute us, or maybe even choose to follow Jesus as a result of us speaking. What is important is that they hear, and they have NO opportunity to hear unless we speak out loud.
Our silent faith has led to a warped view on sharing truth which has left us with lots of lukewarm Christians leading to warped theologies. For example a young pastor was challenged when he said to Christians, “Don’t date, get emotionally involved, engaged, or marry a non-believer. Anyone who doesn’t worship the same God as you will turn your heart”. This was his warning not to become unevenly yoked which is a simple, direct truth from the Word of God. A supposed Christian responded, “It saddens me when people use specific Bible quotes to prove their viewpoint, when the overall theme of the Bible is love and acceptance. The Bible teaches that God loves all. And Jesus loves all. Why wouldn’t His followers? I believe empathy and understanding should be our driving forces. Empathy is a standard and understanding a ruling and a difficult value to uphold.”
The silencing of truth has left supposed believers this option of forming their own opinions of who God is, what His Word is all about, what love looks like, and what should be our driving force in life. To think a believer would criticize a pastor for speaking the Word and accusing him of just “using” Bible quotes to prove his viewpoint is almost beyond belief. The Bible is NOT a collection of quotes, and indeed we don’t use it to prove our viewpoint but we do let it formulate our faith and belief system, establishing our view of the world. The Word of God must be our only source of truth and speaking it out in response to the lies, sin, and errors of this world is our only recourse! Jesus responded to temptation by speaking the Word – we must do the same.
And who said the overall theme of the Bible is love and acceptance? The Bible doesn’t simply teach God loves all – The Bible says God IS love! (1 John 4:8,16) There is a significant difference in the knowledge that God IS love and God loves all and knowing this difference prevents us from defining love so cheaply! The truth is we show Christ-like love when we use His Word to warn people of the dangers inherent in this world, such as becoming unevenly yoked. This is what Jesus did! Yet the world and even some in the Church try to convince us love is demonstrated through empathy, understanding, and acceptance of anything and everything. We are trained to leave people alone, don’t speak truth from God’s Word (since it is relative anyway depending on our personal understanding), and just let God handle all the sin in the world! We even convince ourselves if we remain silent when we see sin in the lives of others we won’t be rejected and this keeps the door open to share sometime in the future!
The problem with this thought process is silence only demonstrates our agreement with sin in the lives of lukewarm Christians and even unbelievers, and in effect, we do not love them enough to share life-giving truth! We get easily intimidated by anyone who says we are not loving or that we should not throw the Word of God at them since we are no better than them, so we shut up rather quickly. Jesus never hesitated to share His message of truth even though many walked away from Him as a result. He didn’t wait for the “right time” but every moment was right for Him. It is the same today since He is the same! There is no wrong time to be life givers! And honestly, we are running out of time!
One of the main reasons we don’t speak life is because of our ignorance of Scriptural truths. Ignorance does not mean we are stupid it simply means we lack knowledge and choose to remain unaware. Ignorance breeds silence! Lack of knowledge makes us insecure and easily swayed to believe whatever sounds good. Unbelievers and lukewarm Christians might seem to know the Word of God because what they say “sounds” good and loving just like this young man’s disagreement with the pastor “sounds” good even though it is not biblical. A “good” sounding response doesn’t equate to truth in God’s Word! Reading and studying the Word, staying involved with a bible believing Church, and being equipped by God-fearing leaders protects us from saying good things that are untruthful and causes us to speak truthful things that might not sound so good!
Let’s be honest! We stay silent because propagating the Word of God especially if confronting sin brings verbal abuse and rejection, neither of which feels good so we just push our “mute” button while sin is flaunted in our faces. Our refusal to share truth only demonstrates our unwillingness to be rejected. Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus told us speaking out on His behalf will not be pretty! It will hurt as people insult, abuse, condemn, despise and lie about us (that would be the reviling part). It will be painful when they harass, bully, hound, and treat us unfairly (that would be the persecution part). It will cause heartache as they say all kinds of wicked, foul, malicious, vile things about us (that would be the evil part). And all of this will not just come at the hands and mouths of unbelievers but believers alike. We should expect to receive nothing different from what the prophets received, and we know they were persecuted by the religious and nonreligious for “speaking up”! And still they didn’t grab hold of the motto “Silence is golden” as we have in the church today.
Likewise Paul didn’t either! Acts 20:26-27“I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Paul could say this because he was faithful to teach truth, including warning people of error. He was not cowardly and never sought to please men but wanted to please God. He boldly condemned error wherever and whenever he found it, including in his own life. Paul loved people enough to forewarn them savage wolves would come in with perverse teachings, saying things that sounded good but were contrary to truth to draw believers away from Christ to themselves (v.29-30).
Paul was faithful to warn others and to speak up! He told the people to watch and remember! 31 “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”Are we as faithful? Are we watching? Are we remembering? Are we telling people about the error of their ways, teaching them the WHOLE counsel of God, warning them of danger, being so in love with them that we are filled with sorrow and tears as we watch them continue in sin? It seems that today we completely ignore this warning to watch, to warn, to declare the whole counsel of God, and the wolves have come into the church and drawn many away from the true Gospel while we stand idly by, watching the demise of our loved ones, afraid of saying something that might offend or stir up controversy, unwilling to tell the truth, and feigning ignorance and no responsibility.
Let me give what I hope is a strong word of encouragement here! Do not be silent anymore! Luke 12:8-9 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” Let us boldly confess our faith in Jesus before all men! Let us be like the prophets, apostles, and disciples before us and teach, warn, and speak truth to all men! Let us not deny Jesus in word or action from this day forward! Let’s not waste another day protecting our faith through silence! Let’s spend every day growing in our faith through speaking out! Let us speak loudly in words and actions that Jesus is Lord!