October 14, 2016
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
In our present culture and political season, one of my biggest challenges as a Christian is knowing how and when to use my voice, if at all. Speak Up? Psalm 39:2: “I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, and my sorrow grew worse.” We’ve probably all heard that there are some things we just shouldn’t talk about in polite company, including religion and politics. We’ve all been around (or maybe have even been) people who are rash, argumentative, and offensive with their viewpoints. So keeping to this rule of etiquette keeps conversations polite and respectful of varying thoughts and opinions. Particularly now in our world of social media, it’s very easy for people to “tweet” their minds; everyone can have a voice. We witness people disagreeing in sometimes ugly, even slanderous ways. It makes me wonder if in our society we are losing the ability to thoughtfully and logically discuss ideas, hear and consider other sides, and value such dialogue without attacking the person who holds views that are different from ours. I must confess that I find myself rarely ever speaking publicly about things that really matter — because undoubtedly, someone will disagree. If I am silent, I don’t risk accidentally offending someone or being misunderstood. And rather than becoming engaged in all the clamor of voices, opening myself up to attack and offense, it’s easier just to be quiet. I also sometimes reason that I should just stick to strictly being concerned with the gospel. I should focus solely on evangelism rather than getting caught up in social or political issues, in the hope that a life that is transformed by Christ will result in a transformed mind on various issues. And yet, has this resulted in my being bold for Christ and regularly sharing him with others? And even among those who do trust and follow Jesus, is their shift to a biblical worldview on all issues an instantaneous one? Isn’t that sort of growth an ongoing process — for all of us? So I’m wondering if in keeping my silence, I have kept the peace, but have ceased to do good? I wonder if my silence about most anything that matters has been a way of giving up ground? If we adhere to respectful silence, we provide space to those who are pushing forward false and harmful ideas. We create greater opportunity for the voices of error and harm to be heard and believed. God has gifted some of us with prophetic voices, ones that can issue a clarion call to the things that are true and good and pure and right and beautiful. We need to pray for those with this gift and encourage them to be brave and bold, yet marked by grace, love, humility, and kindness as they seek God for how to steward this gift. For others, we can each be loving truth tellers in the relationships and situations in which we have a platform. That may be within our families or our friend groups, within our schools or our work places, and even on social media. No doubt, we will sometimes be met with criticism or rejection, even if we speak prayerfully and intending to speak peaceably. Jesus, who is the ultimate truth (John 14:6), likewise experienced rejection (Isaiah 53:3, 1 Peter 2:4). But if our goal is the well-being of others, then we will lovingly speak truth to them and risk offending them, for true life and blessing only come by way of truth. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In keeping silent, we say nothing. And in our silence, perhaps we have ceased doing good. You and I have a voice. We have a platform, be it large or small. May God give us wisdom to know how to use our voices to bring honor to him and to bring good to others with wisdom, love, and kindness.
For reflection: As we consider and pray about what to say, particularly during this somewhat volatile political season, consider these verses that help guide us in our speech:
Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Proverbs 31:26 (though speaking of an excellent wife, could apply to us all): “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
James 1:5-6: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
Ephesians 4:11-12, 15-16: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Romans 12:3: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Consider reading all of Romans 12.)And speaking specifically of gospel proclamation, the apostle Paul writes:
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes….”
Ephesians 6:19-20: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Carolyn Litfin is executive assistant at College Church in Wheaton. She is the wife of a college professor and mom to two high school students. You can find her at her blog, www.praiseproclaimer.com, and on Twitter. ]]>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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