A Time To Be Silent

5841246498_c7fff7950b_o

If I published every one of my opinions, my Facebook account would be shut down and I would be taking classes at some government sanctioned reeducation center with barbed wire on the fences.

There is a time to speak up. There is a time to share your opinion. There is a time to boldly proclaim the truth. There is a time to call a wrong what it is. There is a time to point out contradictions and corruptions. Just look outside. The opportunities to speak up are limitless. If you haven’t found anything yet, the government funded Planned Parenthood selling body parts from dead babies is a good place to start. There are plenty of times to speak and speak loudly.

But there is also a time to be silent.

A time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7 (ESV)

The time to be silent can come even when you’re right.

It can come when those with differing opinions are making no sense at all.

It can come when the clever little thoughts inside of your head would probably shut everyone else up and expose their assumed intellectualism for the foolishness that it is.

There are things worth dying for. There are things worth speaking up for. But there are also things worth shutting up for.

Silence doesn’t always mean that you are sacrificing truth for so-called unity. It doesn’t always mean that you are a coward. Sometimes it means that your love for others outweighs your desire to prove them wrong on some secondary issue.

Words and opinions are powerful. For opinionated loud-mouths like me, it can get you a lot of attention on social media. And it can get your blog post a lot of views. But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole Internet and loses his soul (Mark 8:36)? Or the soul of the guy on the other side of the debate?

It is possible for you to win the argument and still lose. This is especially true of Christians. We can be right about a whole host of issues from the guy we voted for to the team we cheer for while at the same time being so obnoxious and arrogant about our rightness that we function more like the kid with his laser pointer directed toward the screen in the dark theater than the light that Jesus called us to be.

Debate is good. It’s part of what makes our country great. And again, there are hundreds of issues in our world where Christians should share, not just their opinion, but what the Bible says. By all means, we are to speak up.

But there are other issues that the Bible has not even come close to addressing that even good Jesus-loving Christians disagree on. Sure, these issues are important. They matter. But a lot of them will get along just fine without our voice. But if we feel the need to speak loudly on every single issue, we will be less likely to be heard when it really is time to speak up.

I’m writing this to myself. Over the past few weeks, I’ve written and deleted scores of tweets and blog posts in my head. My anger and disgust were pounding away at the invisible keyboard in my brain. The Holy Spirit kept hitting the delete button.

There are a lot of issues that I would call secondary. Who has the better team? Who would make the better president? And on and on. And it’s certainly okay to discuss these things. But as we discuss, we should be willing to walk away without having the last word. We should be more eager to see the man on the other side of our opinion remain in tact than we are with proving him wrong.

Think of how this would change the divisiveness in our country.

What would it look like if more of us said to ourselves, “Wow! That’s really not my thing but I’ll just stay quiet and keep scrolling through my news feed.” Or what if more of us said something like this? “Man, I hate that place. But the Internet doesn’t need to know about it. I’ll just stay away and stay quiet.”

Your Facebook status WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS and ending with, “Just sayin'” probably won’t change the actual issue at hand. But it will change some of your relationships. And it will change the way that others view you and the gospel you represent. And that change won’t be good.

You might need to take a social media break or just hide a few friends who have a way of setting you off.

Truth matters. Please don’t misunderstand that. I’ll say it again. There are tons of occasions for us to speak up and let our voices be heard, even if people don’t like what we say. But there are also plenty of opportunities for us to stay quiet. For Christians, the primary objectives of both our silence and our speaking up are the same.

The glory of God.

Sometimes we glorify him with a microphone and a stage and 10,000 followers. Sometimes we glorify him while biting our tongue, counting to ten and walking away.

But we never glorify him when we love being heard more than we love our neighbor.

image credit