by Tim Childs
We must be careful to avoid underestimating the power of words although they may seem so small. Wikipedia, the on-line encyclopedia, says a word is “a unit of language that carries meaning.”
Since words can carry such weight, either breaking the heart or making it sing joyfully, they must be used with discretion. According to Jesus, each of us will be judged, in part, upon the basis of our use of words (Matthew 12:37). Our inner man should yearn with the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, KJV).
The Holy Spirit, through Solomon, teaches us there is “a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (3:7). Heavenly wisdom, which we are to request of our Father (James 1:5), enables us to discern when to speak and when to hold our peace. God’s purposes fail to be fulfilled in us when we are silent when we should have spoken or at those moments we speak (saying the wrong thing) when we rather should have remained silent. While silence may be golden on occasions, there are certain things it can never accomplish.
1. Silence Is Not God’s Strategy for Imparting His Will to Men.
God “hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:2). When Jesus was here in the flesh he did not keep silent. Instead, he spoke words to convey the Father’s will. One such great occasion was his Sermon on the Mount, at which time “he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying” (Matthew 5:2). Near the end of his sojourn when Jesus prayed to the Father he said, “For I have given them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me” (John 17:8).
Following Jesus’ return to the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit (also called the Comforter) to guide the Apostles in their use of words they would employ to teach the gospel of the kingdom. Being human, their understanding was faulty so they needed on-going aid to assist them in their understanding. Being human, their memory failed them so they needed the Holy Spirit to bring those things Jesus had taught to their remembrance. The Holy Spirit was promised to come to their aid and guide them into all truth speaking words which were given him by the Father (John 16:13). Jesus prayed not only for the chosen Apostles, “but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20).
The text of Holy Scripture will never become obsolete because, following the first century A.D., God chose to speak exclusively to all successive generations through this medium. The message once revealed through words and confirmed as authentic needed not to be re-confirmed for every generation and every nation through history. When the New Testament was completed that “which is perfect” had finally come (1 Corinthians 13:10), removing the need for partial revelations here and there through miraculous spiritual gifts, such as the gift of prophecy (cf. 13:8-12). All Scripture continues to be profitable for us today as it imparts to our minds everything, spiritually, we need to know about serving the Lord here, and preparing for the hereafter (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
2. Silence Is Not God’s Strategy for Bring the Lost to the Savior of the World.
While one’s example of the Christian lifestyle is so very important, it does not become a substitute for direct teaching about Jesus and heaven’s will for all of us through him. Jesus has commissioned us in his charge to the church to “[g]o ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Words must be spoken to point men to “the Lamb of God, which taken away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Paul asked, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:14).
One should reasonably conclude God does not draw men, convert, or sanctify us through a supposed direct operation of the Holy Spirit upon the sinner’s heart (John 17:17). Words must be spoken for our contemporaries to know of Jesus’ demand to repent and be baptized by the authority of Heaven. This knowledge is not discovered merely by looking at our lives. We don’t just “use words if necessary.” It is imperative we do use them.
3. Silence Is Not God’s Strategy for Reclaiming the Erring.
It is easy for us to sit back and put the responsibility on the erring Christian. One might say, “They know where we were when they left us.” Inasmuch as God has reached out to us in grace and mercy, he calls upon us to reach out in mercy and love to those who have fallen. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1). Spiritual men will fulfill heaven’s purpose by letting their compassionate voice be heard.
4. Silence Is Not God’s Strategy for Defeating Satan.
So much more than Uncle Sam ever thought about wanting a young person for the United States Army, Satan wants you. As Jesus warned Peter, Satan wants to “sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). God’s Word is filled with warning after warning of Satan’s devices and devilish deceit.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Satan’s messengers need to be silenced (Titus 1:9-11). The sword of the Spirit is not silence; it is the incomparable living Word of God.
Words carry weight and must be used with discretion.