by: FCC Staff
We all have an opinion, and we sure like to share them with any and all who will listen. Sometimes however we aren't really all that informed on a topic... but still we can be tempted to opine anyway. Silence isn't a bad option, when it comes to matters that we do not understand.
Paul told Timothy, "As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." (1 Timothy 1:3-7)
These false teachers were trying to set themselves up as experts in biblical truth, sharing false narratives and promoting speculation that they had some new insights into the faith, yet Paul ass that they are "without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertion."These "vain discussions" of an "intellectual" nature are only serving to lead people away from God, away from " love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
It would be better to be silent, then to promote ideas and speculations that are not rooted in the truth of God.
James also advocates for restraint when he wrote "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19) Being slow to speak allows us to listen and apply wisdom to what we are hearing, not simply react on instinct or without a full understanding of scripture.
Jude also offers up an interesting insight into speaking without knowledge,
"Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively." (Jude 1:8-10)
We don't know what exactly these people were saying that was so erroneous, Jude doesn't tell us. Nor is his reference to a narrative in which Michael disputes with the devil over the body of Moses found in our scriptures anywhere. We could speculate... but that's the point of what Jude, James, Paul and our proverb are trying to tell us. That it is better to keep our mouths shut when we don't know, than open our mouths and speculate on matters which we have little or no information about.
Part of the ideals of the Restoration Movement (which FCC is a part of) was to rely solely on scripture and what we can learn from it to inform our beliefs. in 1809 Thomas Campbell, one of the founders of the Restoration Movement delivered an address to a gathering of Christians:
"Having opened the meeting in the usual manner, and, in earnest prayer, specially invoked the Divine guidance, proceeded to rehearse the matter from the beginning, and to dwell with unusual force upon the manifold evils resulting from the divisions in religious society–divisions which, he urged, were as unnecessary as they were injurious, since God had provided, in his sacred Word, an infallible standard, which was all-sufficient and alone-sufficient, as a basis of union and Christian co-operation. He showed, however, that men had not been satisfied with its teachings, but had gone outside of the Bible, to frame for themselves religious theories, opinions and speculations, which were the real occasions of the unhappy controversies and strifes which had so long desolated the religious world. He, therefore, insisted with great earnestness upon a return to the simple teachings of the Scriptures, and upon the entire abandonment of everything in religion for which there could not be produced a Divine warrant.
Near the conclusion of his address, he spoke these now famous words, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.” A profound silence was said to have fallen over the crowd, as the weight of that thought sunk into their minds."
There is a lot of wisdom in that statement, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent." and it aligns with the truth we find in scripture. So today, let's take some time to think before we speak or offer an opinion, confirming it in God's Word if we do. If not, like scripture tells us, we should remain silent.
Prayer for Today,
Father, thank you so much for the wisdom of your word. It teaches me all I need to know to live a righteous life and bear your name and image in the world. Jesus, teach me when I should speak, and when I should remain silent. Keep me far from endless controversies and arguments that may stimulate my human intellect, but starve my soul. By your Holy Spirit teach me to know when to speak, when to stay silent, and how to find the truth for my life in your Word. Amen