The other day I saw a girl wearing this t-shirt:
Harsh, but slightly amusing too. I think most of us can probably admit that there are maybe possibly some people in our lives that are prone to a bit of excessive talking.
That is, people who talk about nothing forever, or go on random tangents that take 31 hours before they navigate back to the main point, or people who fill every silent space with chatter about everything/nothing, or those who seem to think they know something about everything and HAVE to contribute……
We all know the type. We smile and grit our teeth and eventually find a way to slowly smoothly slide away.
On the other side of the coin we have those who don’t generally speak up. That’s not to say that they don’t speak…it’s just that they take their opinions and thoughts back to a private arena and vent them there. This group doesn’t feel the need to share their thoughts with anyone and everyone, but they do let their beliefs be known (sometimes quite loudly) to a select few.
In my personal experience it seems that those who are most vocal in private arenas tend to prefer anonymity in public arenas.
Now to be clear here, I’m not talking about matters of confidentiality. There are definitely things that need to remain private. There are also things that are really that just shouldn’t be talked about because they are none of the “talkers” business! I’m referring to those subjects that affect a larger group of people; areas in which public opinion DOES matter–because after all we live in a democracy and the voices of the majority should make a difference. These can be areas like neighborhoods, schools, political parties, churches, businesses and others.
Many times I have become involved in a group to discover that most of the group is “secretly” grumbling (and by “secretly” I mean whispering things to me or a small group of others) about problems the group is having. When I ask them if they have brought the matter up to the group they often seem shocked.
Why would I do that? I don’t want to cause trouble? It’s not my business! I don’t want to rock the boat!
And you know what? 9/10th of the time that issues is finally brought up (because apparently I AM a boat rocker and trouble causer) the rest of the group agrees and positive change actually happens! If the “problem” had been brought up eons ago when it was discovered, much misery (and possible damage) could have been avoided.
Sometimes though, the group doesn’t agree with the dissenter. That’s ok. At least the person got to present their concern, and hopefully the group truly considered the possibilities and decided they wanted to continue on the path the majority had picked. Then that person gets to decide if they want to stay on board or if that particular organization is no longer one of which they feel they should be a part.
The Bible has some good information on this. It says we’re supposed to live in peace with everyone the best we can….(Romans 12:18), but it also says we’re supposed to speak up when something seems not-ok.
We’re supposed to speak up when someone is truly being wronged:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. (Proverbs 31:8)
We’re supposed to speak up when we know that something wrong is happening behind the scenes:
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:11)
We’re supposed to speak up if we know that a fellow believer is choosing a path away from God:
Brothers and sisters, if someone caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. (Galatians 6:1)
If your brother or sister sins go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. (Matthew 18:15)
We’re even told that if we do have a problem and don’t speak up or conceal it…if we don’t address it with the person/organization in which we discover it…then we go on to vent about it privately we are doing the wrong thing!
Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. (Proverbs 10:18)
We are called to speak up. We are told to defend others and defend the truth. We are commanded to NOT stay silent when we see bad things taking place.
The key word in all of this is DISCERNMENT. There’s nothing wrong with praying and obtaining confidential counsel before approaching an issue. Sometimes there is time for that….but other times we just need to pray quickly and speak. We aren’t called to float along with the status quo….we’re called to discover truths and help make them right.
Speaking up is scary sometimes. I get it…I know it. I’ll tell you something I’ve learned though, if I’m speaking up for a personal want/need….it’s waaaaaay scarier than if I’m exposing a problem or defending someone. That makes sense though, doesn’t it? If the world around us is running in the way that God wants it to, and if other people are not being hurt or discriminated against, and if the truth is being spoken and people are transparent….then things are much easier for ourselves as well.
This is not a call to start looking for “darkness” or to start loudly publically whining about everything we have a problem with. It’s more of a reminder that when there is something that we know isn’t right….to DO something about it. That knowledge isn’t plopped in our laps to simply weigh us down…it’s given to us so that we can take care of it. So let’s take care of it. What if we
….Gently respond to a scathing comment on a social media post that God calls us to love and value every single life made in His image?
…Softly ask an offended complaining friend if they have approached the offender for reconciliation, then encourage them to do so instead of listening to the confidential details?
…Speak directly to someone who is NOT showing love to us and ask them why they feel the way they do and then genuinely listen?
…Lovingly remind someone of God’s desires for them and their lives instead of telling them to follow their heart?
Speaking up for the right thing isn’t easy, but it’s right. When you know it’s what God wants, AND it’s done in love and with love it can be effective and healing.
So let’s be brave. Let’s not talk anyone’s ear off, but let’s promise that when it’s time to right a wrong, we’ll be instruments. If we do it together and hold each other accountable then maybe it won’t be so scary. And maybe, we can be world changers in our own little corners of the globe.