Knowing When to Speak Up and Knowing When to Shut It

“Sometimes the way of wisdom is not to say anything until the appropriate time.”

“The great temptation that we face as Christian people is to talk too much, and to talk a lot about spiritual things to people who are not ready to hear it too much. And when you’re up close and personal, whether it’s with your unbelieving husband or your children who are going through a rebellious period in their teens and they don’t want to talk about anything, the danger is that you let your mouth run with it and you start talking. And what you do is you push them away, make life harder for them, you wish them to wish they don’t want to be there anymore because you’re talking too much and forcing it on them.”

Here is an issue I struggle with. And it is a wisdom issue. It’s strange to realize that, because the wisdom I’m speaking about is the proper times to share wisdom. I’m finding this is getting more difficult as I am parenting teenagers. They don’t always appreciate their mom and dad’s wisdom like I thought they would. It’s difficult to know the best timing, the best words, and the best opportunities to share it. This is especially true when it comes to the spiritual truths that we so want to encourage and exhort them in. It’s also the case with other family members or friends. It’s an important art in being a good wife as well. There’s a fine line between being helpful and being a nag.

And then there’s me. I struggle with not wanting to hear wisdom when it is inconvenient for me. And part of that wisdom is that it’s not all up to me. I’m not God.

This is where I received some unexpected wisdom from Liam Goligher’s sermon series on Esther. It wasn’t unexpected to receive wisdom from Liam, but I got some bonus wisdom in his rabbit trails. I highly recommend that you listen to the series.

When he got to the part where Mordecai advises Esther not to reveal her Jewish ancestry, Liam shared, “God gave to her the wisdom that she needed to survive.” He then talked about his frustration in reading a commentator who taught that Esther didn’t have the courage to take a stand for her faith. He refuted this teaching saying, “This teenager, who is on her own and surrounded in an armed camp by soldiers, doesn’t stand a chance.”

And then Liam dropped that wisdom that is hard for me to learn: “Sometimes the way of wisdom is not to say anything until the appropriate time.”

He turns to Peter, who gives wisdom to wives with unbelieving husbands: “Win them without words.” This is such a difficult text. Without words? The gospel is an announcement. Christians are people of the Word. And we know that our lives are not the gospel. But they should adorn the gospel. People often use this “without words” argument as a pass to not take a stand for the truth of God’s word when we really should, or to not bother sharing the gospel if we just lead good lives. But Liam explains the wisdom of a patient faith that waits on the Lord for the right time to speak:

“If you’re in a close personal friendship with people or in a marriage, or at home with parents, or siblings who are not Christians, you rabbiting on all the time about Jesus is really going to get up their nose and make them more hostile to Jesus. In close relationships like that, you’re better to wait, and Peter goes on to say this actually further down that chapter…wait until you’re asked and then be ready to say something. Wait until you’re asked. And Esther was given the wisdom to wait.

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