Fear of conflict caused a man to hang his head and stand silently whenever his new wife falsely accused his children. In private, he assured them, “I know what she said isn’t true.” But he continued to let her berate them in his presence to “keep peace.”
His actions didn’t destroy his children’s love, but they did destroy their sense of security. And he lost their respect. He also lost his health, real peace, and the opportunity to grow strong in his weakness.
Most people tend to fall into one of two categories. Some thrive on conflict and lash out over slight irritations. They victimize people to keep from being seen as weak. Others go out of their way to avoid any level of conflict. Their weakness fails to protect truth and those in their charge. Both tendencies come from the flesh or our unholy human nature. These inclinations must be crucified (Galatians 5:25).
Conflict tightens my stomach. But seeing how an unwillingness to speak truth weakens families, churches, companies, and countries helps me draw on God’s strength and seek His guidance when battles come. On more than one occasion, like Jeremiah, I felt I had to speak even if doing so drew fire and brought no noticeable change in the attacker.Seeing how an unwillingness to speak #truth weakens families, companies, and countries should help us seek God's guidance and #strength when battles come to us. Click To Tweet
After one incident, I asked the Lord for wisdom and recalled Leviticus 19:17. Below are two different translations of this verse with my thoughts on them.
“Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin (NLT).
Application: We risk becoming bitter when we refuse to deal with wrong. Pointing out the wrong provides an opportunity for the wrongdoer to repent.
This reminds me of Ezekiel 33:1-16 which talks about the call to be a watchman. If the watchman gives a warning and the people refuse to listen, their blood will be on their own heads. But if the watchman refuses to warn them, their blood with be on his head.
‘You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may certainly rebuke your neighbor, but you are not to incur sin because of him (NASB).
Application: This translation echoes the same warning. Stuffing resentment instead of addressing it leads to bitterness that spills out in sinful behavior. The second part continues the warning not to be drawn into sin because of them. We rebuke, but we must not retaliate. Their wrong is no excuse for us to do wrong. In other words, don’t become like them.
Are you facing a battle that you’d rather avoid? Do you feel God’s nudge to take a stand when you’d rather retreat or acquiesce? Take heart from the Lord’s words to Jeremiah.
‘You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:7-8 NIV).
Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers. Sometimes being a peacemaker means turning the other cheek. However, good peacekeepers always stand armed and ready to resist evil.
As King Solomon wrote,
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7, 8 NIV).
May we seek God and follow His lead. Because remaining silent when we need to speak is just as harmful as speaking when we need to be quiet.