One of the great dilemmas of life is knowing when to speak and when to be silent. This is particularly manifest when we are in a situation where people are being hostile to us and speaking falsely against us. When is it right to speak up and when is it right to keep silent?
There are many issues that can bear upon us and need to be considered when we face the hostilities of others or are mis-represented. What I am writing about here though is the issue of unnecessarily becoming a martyr. People say something which is incorrect, and we say “I am going to be like Christ. I will perform as he performed in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.”
This approach is appropriate in certain circumstances. Two particular considerations come to mind:
- When people convict themselves out of their own mouths then it does not require us to speak to bring that conviction.
- We do not speak to defend ourselves. The primary issue is not our reputation; the primary issue is the glory of God.
The conduct of our Saviour at His trial would be when these would be displayed and hence we see the fulfilment of Isaiah 53:7
But there are times to speak.
It is helpful to look at the conduct of the apostle Paul as he faced false accusations from his enemies. He did not just accept these and “play the martyr.” He did not just accept it so as to end up in difficult circumstances and say “I am suffering for Christ”. Rather he spoke up. See. for example, what he said in Acts 24:12-13 when he was accused before Felix:
My accusers did not find me arguing with anyone at the temple, or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city. And they cannot prove to you the charges they are now making against me.
He effectively said that the accusations were not true. This all reminds us that there is a time to speak up. To play “being the martyr” in this situation is placing us in a situation of facing self-inflicted problems. There are times when we simply should speak up.