The Virtue of Silence
If you stand up for anything worth standing up for, you will be attacked. If you believe in something, if you chose a direction and push towards it you will invariably be hated by some. You will be misaligned, misunderstood, and misrepresented if you choose to take any form of action that leads to any meaningful impact. I wish this were different in the church, where we follow the Prince of peace who loved every human past, present, and future, but it seems that division and strife are even more rampant among his followers than those who do not claim to follow Christ. Charles Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers” who is venerated by Christians today, was hated by many pastors in London in his time, endured all manner of criticism in the media, and once had a bomb threat called into his birthday party. He was so affected by this adversity that his wife hung this text in his bedroom,
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in Heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
In the name of purity of theology we rip each other apart. When people rise in offense and leave the body, they spit on the bride. Many times it seems those who are trying their hardest to help are targeted the most with hate. This article won’t change that culture, I know that. Even our Savior endured the unjust criticism of the religious elite, and if they hated Jesus… we don’t stand a chance.
If you attempt to lead like Jesus, prepare to endure the mocking that accompanies the cross.
Jesus himself warned us that they would treat us, as they treated him. People will question your motives, legalism will judge your actions, and spectators will mock your thinking. Even among your friends there may be a potential Judas. Yet, if there were no opposition to overcome, there would be no leadership required. In life and ministry you will have no say in what assails you or who casts the stone, but you are able to choose how you will respond.
Of course our instinct is to rage against our enemies, to publicly humiliate them under the guise of a “teaching moment” or as a warning for all others who think like they do. We think returning anger for anger will allow us to feel at peace. We desire to defend our intentions, and our position when someone calls them into question. We see the injustice happening to us as the enemy, which we use to excuse behavior that is beneath us in the name of “making things right”.
Leaders are usually ones with an overactive competitiveness, and for Christian leaders this presents a problem. What do you do when you get publicly slapped but serve someone who commands you to turn your other cheek? Jesus never asked us to set people straight, put them in their place, and remind them of our position or theirs. Jesus asked us to be silent in the face of personal injustice. To silence the accusations of the enemy not by shouting about your haters, or proving your truth, but by living a life of silent forgiveness and quiet boldness. Many see this as the cowards way, to not answer an accusation, while really it is Christ’s way. Jesus modeled this on the cross where he was falsely accused, mocked, tortured, beaten, and publicly humiliated, yet he spoke not a word. We can’t handle one sub-tweet from someone without a sharp response. Never allow the position of someone towards you to determine your positioning towards them. Don’t prove their accusations right with your fleshly response.
Let the fruit of your life speak and the anger of your flesh fall silent.
Determine that you are going to be a person of character, and don’t let the circumstances of others change that, because if the enemy sees He can get you off track by throwing a fool with an accusation at you, he will find no shortage of them willing to volunteer for the job. You don’t have to always reply or be justified in your rightness- this is the pharisees’ way. Christ’s way is more humbling, but more healthy: Choose silence in the face of the accuser and let the Lord fight on your behalf. Christ’s silence on the way to the cross, was the loudest sermon He ever preached. His silence is our example, and when practiced, shocks the world.
“But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent.” (Matthew 27:12)