Does God need our help?
In a word, no.
Sometimes He chooses to use us to do His will, and the Bible is full of examples of times where God used mere mortals to accomplish great things. Nehemiah and Moses are great examples.
However, just because we’re aware of things that ain’t right doesn’t necessarily mean we are supposed to march on up to the powers that be and try to right the wrongs. I have to admit this is a strong tendency of mine. And right now I’m battling the urge to really let some fur fly.
Proverbs 10:19 says, “He who restrains his lips is wise.”
Sometimes we have to speak up, but sometimes it is best to keep your big yap shut. So how do you know the difference? A few suggestions:
1. Get wise counsel.
“In the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14
Now you have to watch out for this one. If you’re not really, really careful, you could slide into gossip under the guise of “seeking counsel.” Don’t do that. Go to someone known for discretion, wisdom and calm and ask for their advice on what you should do. Then do it. Try to get your counsel from people outside of the immediate situation whenever possible. For example, if you’re mad at your sister, don’t go prattling to your mother about it until you know the right course of action.
2. Make sure you have the whole story.
“The first one to plead his cause seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17
Never, ever assume. There could be pieces of the puzzle of which you are unaware. This is why the best scenario is to confront the person directly before you go beyond him or her to deal with the issue. Matthew 18:15-17 gives some good advice on dealing with offenses with other people. But sometimes that’s not possible or even wise. Refer to step #1 for clarification. Rinse, repeat.
3. Consider what’s at stake.
If someone will get hurt if you don’t speak up, by all means, do so without delay. If a crime is about to be committed or if irreparable harm to a person, company, institution or someone’s reputation will occur without intervention, intervene! But if nothing terrible will happen if you do nothing, maybe you shouldn’t say anything. At least not yet.
If someone’s doing something dishonest, deceitful or just plain wrong, they will hang themselves with their own rope eventually. And unless they are coming to you and asking for your help and advice, you should probably let them tie the knot and jump.
You know what they say about the road to hell. It may be paved with good intentions, but words better left unspoken are the mortar that holds those bricks together.
It may feel good to speak up and right a wrong, but that might not be God’s plan for the situation, or for you. Or for the other person. If it is, God will let you know in a clear way that you need to speak up NOW. Until then, focus on the task God has put before you today, and let other people’s business be just that.
So where do you stand on speaking up or shutting up? Do you struggle with this? And what parameters do you use to decide when to speak and when not to?