Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. – Proverbs 11:12

Every person will be speechless before God. May our silence make the grace of the gospel louder.

One of the hardest decisions we face is when to speak and when to remain silent. Pride month is a verbal and symbolic assault. We face this issue because of our tradition of and legal support for freedom of speech. So where does silence belong? Isn’t our silence a failure to honor God’s truth?

The Bible affirms a place for silence. Proverbs speaks of the wisdom of silence (Pro. 17:28). Ecclesiastes 3:7 reminds us there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” When cornered by the Egyptians, Moses told the fleeing Israelites, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exo. 14:14)

Scripture also teaches about the courage to speak. Esther is an example of one who refuses to be silent in the face of death (Est. 4:14, 7:4). And Paul reflects the boldness of the prophets when he states, “…we also believe, and so we also speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).

Jesus demonstrates the power of speaking, silencing his opposition (Matt. 22:34, 46). But when confronted directly by the High Priest, he remained silent, fulfilling what was prophesied about him (Matt. 26:63, Isa. 53:7).

Almost. Jesus is silent when asked to defend what he has done. But he speaks up to proclaim what God will do (Matt. 26:64, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:67-70).

Jesus is the Son of God. He lived on earth as fully man and fully God. He did not defend his actions because he came to die for our sins. But he also spoke clearly about what God would accomplish through him in his death and resurrection.

The power of the gospel is often preceded by silence.

Paul reminds us that under the law, “every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God” (Rom. 3:19-23). “Every mouth” includes us. We cannot justify ourselves, even by obeying God’s law.

Then the truth of the gospel shouts into that silence: we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).

Often our first impulse to speak is to justify ourselves. That impulse is a good reason to remain speechless before God and others. In that silence, we can hear God’s grace to us. Then when we do speak, we can be confident our words will be seasoned with that grace (Col. 4:6)

May God grant us the wisdom to know when our silence makes his grace louder.

When have you said something that you regret?

How would you handle that differently, given the chance? 

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