I don’t want to pretend that men who long to lead godly lives always find it easy to speak up whenever the moment and situation call for it.
I think of great men of the Bible who earned descriptions such as “the friend of God,” “a man after God’s own heart,” and “the twelve.” Each of them, more than once, left things unspoken that they should have said—to their own detriment and to the injury of friends or family.
Abraham (then called Abram), “the friend of God” (James 2:23; see also Isaiah 41:8), put a great many people in danger by refusing to speak up. Just before he and his beautiful wife, Sarai, traveled through a pagan country, he persuaded her to tell the king that she was his sister, not his wife.
By choosing to keep silent about the truth, Abram put in danger not only his wife, but the whole royal court.
God Himself exposed Abram’s deceit (Genesis 20:3). After Abram received a stinging rebuke, the situation resolved itself peacefully; but had he not left the truth unspoken, no frightening incident would have occurred in the first place. And did I mention that this was the second time Abram had pulled this trick? He did it first in Egypt (Genesis 12:11-20).
King David, “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), evidently made a habit of not speaking up in his own home. His failure as a responsible father to verbally admonish one of his sons, Adonijah, eventually led to the young man’s untimely death. As a prelude to describing how Adonijah died, the Bible says, “His father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, ‘Why have you done so?’” (1 Kings 1:6).
Why didn’t David rebuke his son “at any time”? Well, he was a busy guy. He probably left the child-raising duties to his wives and servants. Yet 1 Kings 1:6 strongly implies that David could have and should have corrected his son.
The disciples of Jesus, “the twelve,” were no strangers to remaining silent when they needed to speak up. On one trip, after the group arrived in Capernaum, Jesus looked at them and asked, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” (Mark 9:33). Scripture says, “They kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest” (verse 34).
Silence—no doubt due to feelings of guilt, shame, and the shock of being found out.
Men generally don’t like being unmasked! Jesus, however, was—and still is—an expert at unveiling the truth.
Our Lord wants you to engage. He wants you to speak up. He wants to move a lot of your conversations from the “unspoken” category to the “spoken” category.
Like these biblical figures, have you been living too much of your life in silence? Are you ready to follow God’s leading to become a man willing to step up and speak out?