A Time to Speak

Loose lips sink ships.

In the uncertain political climate that we live in today, is it “a time to speak” or “a time to keep silence” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)? It takes wisdom to know the difference. Silence appears like cowardice to many people, but it’s often wise. This is why I don’t think most Christians would be good spies or double agents; they can’t keep their mouths shut.

Jesus-and-phariseesJohn the Baptist told King Herod that taking his sister-in-law Herodias for a wife was a sin (Matthew 14:4). So it was, but did John have to be so bold? He lost his head as a result (14:3-11). Jesus Christ never did anything so brazen in relation to political leaders, both Jewish and Roman. He wisely hid his views and limited his words. Instead, Jesus contented himself with calling Herod a fox when told that the king wanted to kill him (Luke 13:31-32). Later, when told that Pontius Pilate had “mingled” Galileans’ “blood with their sacrifices,” Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (13:1-3). Only with the Pharisees and Sadducees did Jesus reveal his righteous anger.

German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Maybe he was right in relation to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, but what was the result? Bonhoeffer spent two years in prison before he was executed in the crackdown on Operation Valkryie, a failed assassination plot, in 1945. Like John the Baptist, he proverbially ran his head into a noose. So did Sophie Scholl of the White Rose, a nonviolent resistance group in Munich. She and other members opposed Hitler but were discovered and executed in 1943. Unlike Bonhoeffer and Scholl, some anti-Nazi resistance fighters and double agents survived the war.

I once admired John, Bonhoeffer, Scholl, and other martyrs. Now I wonder if their boldness was worth it. These people didn’t value survival, living to fight another day. They didn’t stay silent or flee persecution either because they didn’t know the “time to keep silence.” They didn’t hide in the shadows and wait. Instead, their boldness cost them their lives.

Drastic geopolitical change is coming soon, worldwide. Will it be “a time to speak” or “a time to keep silence”? Should we be bold or stay in the shadows? We must pray for wisdom to know the difference.


One thought on “A Time to Speak

  1. When King Saul threatened his life, David fled (1 Samuel 21:10) as David was later to flee from his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:14). After the raising of Lazarus incensed the authorities, who were crying for His blood, “Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews, but went into a country near the desert, to a city called Ephrem, and there abode with His disciples” (John 11:54). It is odd to think of Jesus lying low, like a fugitive, but He understood that timing was important. It wasn’t yet His time to die. For a while William Tyndale outran the authorities, but eventually he slipped, fell prey to the enemy, and was martyred. That good men had the good sense to lie low shows that “discretion is the better part of valor.”

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