Monday, July 13, 2020

To Speak or Not To Speak




In the book of James chapter one verse nineteen we are told this - "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."

Oh, how convicting are those words. I have often done just the opposite. I am working toward getting that under control, but am certain I'll never perfect it. 

I am left with a question. When is it appropriate to speak out?

In these days of Covid-19 and political unrest passions run high. And with the availability of social networking we have an avenue where we can be heard. However, being heard may be more limited than we might think.

This "speaking out" issue is something I struggle with. 

I am able to respond to a post if I choose, but should I? I have no qualms when posting encouraging or supportive words. But what should I do if I truly disagree with a post or the writer has stated something that is patently untrue?

I've heard people say God doesn't need us to speak up. Really? Then why did God raise up the voices of his saints throughout the ages? Some of those voices were truly harsh. The Old Testament Prophets could be downright terrifying. And even the Prince of Peace called the Pharisees hypocrites and said they were like "white washed tombs." That's strong speech.

So, what do we do? We're scrolling along on Facebook or Twitter or some other online network and we come across a statement we feel compelled to respond to.

Let's go back to James. He says first, to listen. I'm thinking we need to be thoughtful and not fire back with the first response that comes to mind. Maybe we should consider why we feel we must speak. What do we want to accomplish? Will it be of benefit? 

Then James says be slow to speak. Clearly we should take time to examine our hearts and to temper our responses with God's wisdom and grace. And perhaps we will come to the conclusion that a response is not in the best interest of others in the conversation. Just take time to consider it.

He goes on to say be slow to anger. That's pretty clear. We should be careful not to go off like a firecracker and attack. I've seen so much of that in recent years, and especially the last few months. It is rarely helpful and more often than not it causes hurt followed by more mean spirited postings or replies. It's not the best way to find common ground. And in the end those who might benefit from a rich and congenial conversation will simply tune out.

So, does all that mean we need to remain quiet and keep our thoughts to ourselves? Maybe. Sometimes. But I'm convinced God wants us to be speaking truth and love to the world. We've been commanded to tell others about Christ and the gift of eternal life that he offers humankind.

We have been given the gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who indwells us. He gives wisdom and understanding and we have instructed to rely on him. Christ would not have told us this if the Holy Spirit were unreliable. With caution and good will we should speak out. The world is dying for the lack of the knowledge and truth. 

As we step out, remember the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Wouldn't the world be a more beautiful place if more of the spirit were evident in our daily lives?

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Maybe if we keep that in mind the next time we feel we must contribute God's truth or our opinion or perspective on a topic there may be a better response.

Keep praying for one another. Love one another.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

7 comments:

  1. Dear Bonnie, I’m one of your childhood friends. I have a picture of your mom and dad. I have an old address at Glide. Would that still work for me to send the picture to you? Paulette Hadley

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    1. Hello Paulette. How wonderful to hear from you. I hope all is well with you.

      My address has been the same for forty years. We've moved, but always to places here in our little town.

      Thank you so much for tracking me down for the photo.

      Bless you.

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    2. I will send it out shortly. I enjoyed your mom’s smile; she always had that certain sparkle. I enjoy your spark too, and wisdom shown in your blogs. Keep it up. We certainly need it now in our world. Paulette

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    3. Aww, thank you. My mom had a wonderful smile, even into her last week on this planet. She slept most of the time, but when she'd open her eyes she would give me a smile full of love.

      God bless you.

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  2. I love you and your mind, thots, mouth!!! Keep preaching, girlfriend! Just make sure it's tempered by ESP= Extra . Power and s. l. o. w. Hard stuff! But GOOD 'n GOD stuff! Both of which you're full of.

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    1. Patti, you are such a dear. Bless you and keep on bubbling over with Holy Spirit joy.

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