to be Silent or NOT

by Pastor Robert VanHorn

SDB church of Pataskala, OH

Probably the most known verse on silence is from Ecclesiastes, used many times in a funeral service. Since this Sabbath Recorder’s theme is “Silence,” this verse is a good place to begin. Ecclesiastes 3:7 — a time to be silent and a time to speak.

How do we know when to speak up and when to keep silent? Did God reveal principles to guide His people? Let’s consider Matthew 7:6 — “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” This scripture taken from what is called the Sermon on the Mount is a compilation of short teachings Jesus used to help His listeners to gain wisdom in their everyday life. This particular verse is a caution to not waste God’s holiness on those who have no regard for the holy. This reminds me of a saying that my dad used many times as I was growing up: “Persuade a man against his will, and he remains the same still.” Debating really only shows the skill of the debater, not the correctness of the debater’s stance. From these scriptures I would propose a basic principle. ASK THE HOLY SPIRIT IF YOU SHOULD SPEAK UP, OR BITE YOUR TONGUE!!!

Now let’s look at times that we should not be silent. There are three scriptures that all say not to be silent. Isaiah 62:1 — “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” Psalm 12:2: — “that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” Acts 18:9 — “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’” These three give three different situations in which we are to speak out. First, for the Lord’s cause of salvation, second to praise our Lord, and third in times of persecution. The way we are not to be silent is also given by example. Jesus did not rail against Pilate and disciples in prison sang praise. All who came to Jesus and His disciples were taught and loved. Jesus did, however, turn the moneychangers’ tables over, because of the wrong use of His Father’s house.

Living daily by example is a wonderful way not to be silent. Jesus gave us great examples in Matthew 6:13-16 — “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”


Today’s Christians have sought to speak out and be both salt and light in our world by providing places of caring in our churches. First by caring for the spiritual life given in the “born again” experience, i.e. salvation, Sabbath observance, armor of God, spiritual gifts and fruit, spiritual warfare, authority, our moral stances (marriage between a man and woman, idolatry, covetousness, homo-sexuality, abortion, abuse), etc. Then by caring for the physical needs of those around us by food and clothing pantries, financial help for those out of work, places of refuge for the homeless, abused, etc. Many churches have programs for recovery developed to help different bondages, alcohol, depression, grief, drugs, etc. Churches also seek to meet the needs of the aging by providing food and fellowship programs. While your church may not be able to meet all of the many differing needs in your particular community, we as individuals still have a responsibility to be the salt and light to individuals that God places in our lives.

When we accept the mandates that Christ gave us, we can not be silent. Sometimes we as individual Christians allow fear to stop us from expressing Christ’s love to the world because we fear not being politically correct, or feel we lack knowledge, or worry someone might be offended. Do you think Christ was worrying about offending the Pharisees or the Sadducees when He made judgment calls about their religiosity? Those judgment calls were a call to wake and see that the Messiah was already here, right in front of them.

Ultimately, there is one Biblical principle that should guide our lives. Ephesians 4:15 — “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

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