- “It won’t matter.”
- “It won’t do any good.”
- “Others have tried.”
- “Let the Lord take care of it.”
- “It’s time to just move on.”
- “Time will tell.”
- “It will only hurt your name at the end.”
- “Just stay out of it.”
- “You will only be more frustrated.”
- “That’s not a hill I am willing to die on.”
- “Let someone else say something.”
- “It’s not my battle.”
- “You left, and it’s not your business anymore.”
That is what you will typically hear when you attempt to speak up and/or legitimately try to address a situation that needs addressing. They all have an element of truth to them, and it is not that the case cannot be made for any one of these oft-repeated exhortations.
Add to those exhortations the cover stories, words of censor, and the intimidations of those who have decided to protect the status quo. It all contributes to the all too common decision to just stay silent!
Both the exhortations of others, and the words of those in position & power, have the same aim and desired outcome, to silence people who . . . .
√ care about what is happening, and love those who are affected
√ refuse to allow the decisions, actions, and offenses to continue without someone speaking out
At times, I have been disturbed at the silence of theological friends, fellow-workers, leaders who were elected to a position to address issues, good members and friends of a ministry who by temperament just walked away quietly, and those who merely accepted the narratives and explanations provided.
If someone uses vulgar language, takes what is not theirs, tells an outright lie, swears, slanders another, speaks maliciously about others, or even impatiently honks their horn at the driver who is sitting at the green light, most would easily identify such as wrong and sinful — sins of commission!
But silence, failing to speak up when one ought to speak up, is not as obvious a sin. Nevertheless, it is a sin of omission. We should have done what we did not do! We failed to at least speak out and apply whatever weight we have as a person to this-or-that situation. That is why those who served on a ministry board, as advisors to a ministry leader, deacons, fellow pastors & elders who failed to speak up when they could have and should have, need to resign or be removed from office along with the wrong-doers. They were also part of the problem!
Silence, not speaking out when you should have spoken up, is a sin of omission. Sins of omission are less obvious, less accusatorial, and therefore more coverable. It takes quite a bit of evidence to call someone out on this sin. Rebuke for such a sin typically requires a person to be caught red-handed — “You stood there and saw-heard it, and said-did nothing! You didn’t speak up?”
Nevertheless, sins of omission will be part of the standard of judgement when we all stand before the Lord. If you were in a situation where you should have spoken up, if you were given a position to be a voice, if you knew about impropriety, self-serving decisions-actions, abuse, partiality, injustice, immorality, or wrong-doing and remained silent. There will be a day of accountability. That day may be here on earth, but it will surely be part of that day when all of us will be challenged as to how we built upon the foundation — I Corinthians 3.
Such silence will be part of the wood, hay, and stubble — and on par the sins of commission, because . . .
Silence is Consent!
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it?
and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it?
and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
— Proverbs 24:12 —
. . . . .
Let’s stop talking about courage, integrity, authenticity, et al.
when we can’t even speak up when we see wrong being done and we stand by silently!