What would the sins of the tongue be? Do you think of lying, slander, gossip, or abusive language? Yes, most of us would think about these things, but what about silence? I think most of us would consider misuse of the tongue to be a sin of speech, but sometimes it is a sin of silence. You can listen to a sermon on this topic by clicking here. Yet, if you don’t have time to do that, you may read some highlights below.
1. We can help others by saying something.
The lepers in 2 Kings 7 found that the army afflicting the city had left suddenly without taking anything. They ate, they drank and then went and hid clothing, gold and silver. However, they soon came to their senses and realized that what they were doing in remaining silent was not a good thing, so they went and told the king.
Esther was warned that if she kept silent at the time her people needed her that God would deliver the Jews anyway but her house would not escape.
Sometimes fear causes us to not speak up. We fear people won’t understand, we fear they will not listen, sometimes (such as in the case of correcting sin in their life) we fear rebuke from them even as we try to help. Still, we need to help.
2. Our actions were not good ones.
When Adam sinned in the garden and afterward heard the Lord walking in the Garden, he did not speak, he hid. Only when God called out searching for him, did Adam speak. When the disciples were arguing on the journey about which of them was the greatest in the Kingdom of God (Mark 9), Jesus asked them what they were discussing, but they remained silent.
When our actions are not right, silence is the last thing we should keep. Adam should have ran to God for help. The disciples should have owned their petty conversation. We should confess those wrongs and look for forgiveness, whether from God or from a brother whom we have offended not remain silent as if it makes the wrong go away.
3. When your brother offends you.
One clear principle in Scripture deals with the times in which we are offended. Some have no problem letting a brother know that they have crossed a line (sometimes it is done too harshly) but most of us, seeking to avoid conflict fail to let a brother know when he has done so.
Silence in these cases can lead to grudges, strained relationships, and according to Leviticus 19:16-17 slander and gossip are not so far behind.
4. When God needs to be praised.
I would suggest that all of our words should praise God. Of all of God’s creations, mankind is the only one that does not praise its Creator all the time and in all ways. Jesus said that if his disciples did not speak out, the stones would have cried out praising Him as He entered Jerusalem. It is right and normal and natural for us to praise God.
We need to praise God and not be silent when people put down spiritual things; ridicule Christians, Jesus, or God; or try to intimidate us into silence by threats or fear. We should be as the Apostles were: Speaking out and praising God that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. (Acts 5)
Ecclesiastes 3:7 says there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. May God grant you courage and wisdom to know when you should do each.
Question: What other times do we fail to speak up when we should?