There are some days or stages in our lives when adversity slams into us at every turn. Every person we come in contact with seems to exist simply to argue and disagree with our perspective. Good intentions are met by bizarre reactions. Words are taken out of context and used for evil intent. Small offenses fester until they are blown out of proportion and kind acts are met with grumbling and complaining.
Life is exhausting sometimes, and I know I tend to have a few different reactions:
1. I go on the defense: I sharpen my position, plant my feet, and dig in for the long fight. I argue back.
2. I sweetly try to explain my position, sharing scripture and offering up prayer.
3. I walk away because I know that my words are never really heard.
Consider social media. It is so easy to feel incredulous when we open our favorite platform and read untruths and accusations based on assumptions and clouded information. As Christians, we want to take action and defend our faith when it comes under attack. Naturally, we want to provide clarity with the truth of his word, but are shocked when our efforts are met with disdain.
Ephesians 3:7 says "there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak". I’ve heard it said that taking no action is taking action and there is truth to that.
Jude 1:20 says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Sometimes our adversaries do not require a response. They simply want to be heard, and our time is best spent in prayer, wrapped up in our Father’s love, calling on the Holy Spirit and looking for the mercy of Christ. Sometimes our best response is prayer.
I once ran into someone with views so opposite mine you could line them up in parallel rows. While we usually avoided the biggie topics, one day they spat out a view so contradictory to the truth that I felt compelled to jump to the defensive. I sharpened my position, planted my feet and dug in for the long fight.
It was a battle with no end as I was met with more responses and attacks on the Word as they were taken out of context and twisted for 'these times.' The person was in no position to hear, and I fear I did more damage than good.
Perhaps my response could have been silence. To simply walk away. At least until I prayed for God to open his heart and to give ears to hear.
And as no one has accused me of too much sweetness, I could have tried #2 a bit differently: I could have simply said, "What you just said was taken out of context. Would you be open to understanding what Jesus had to say about eye for an eye?" This response gives the other person a graceful out (like our Lord gives us all the time) as well as an opportunity to hear the Truth.
Consider the times in your life when you want to immediately jump to the defense or the attack. Ask yourself if there is an opportunity to build your faith among the silence. This week, be knowledgeable and discerning enough to know which difficult situations call for silence and which ones call for speech.
Think about what is coming up in your week. Is there a difficult situation coming that needs God's hand directing you? Is there someone in your family, in your life group, your work who simply needs to be heard and then prayed for? Do you have a friend, spouse, child, sibling, teacher, or coach who needs our prayer? Who is your adversary who refuses to listen? Will you consider this week calling on the Holy Spirit for peace, for quiet, for wisdom in the situation? Your silence, in prayer, could be the most faithful action you can take.
Are you struggling with knowing when to speak and when to remain silent? How can I pray for you?
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