The challenge of knowing when to keep silent and when to speak is something that we are faced with quite often. Various situations may call upon our actions when we may need to stand up for what is right. But this is a big challenge because oftentimes, we speak more than we ought to, depending on the circumstance. There is one supreme example that we should emulate who was the Master at when to speak and when to keep silent, especially when He was being accused and also put to the test constantly by those around Him.
Christ always needed to remain vigilant as people attempted to set Him up, but He always found the “correct” way to respond. In Matthew 27, Jesus was arrested and stood in front of the governor Pontius Pilate, and the governor asked Him in verse 11, “‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’ And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.”
Continuing in verses 13-14: “Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’ And He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.”
Another example can be found in Matthew 26:59-67 when Jesus faced the Sanhedrin as they were trying to accuse Him through false witnesses and testimony, and we read in verses 61-66 how He first reacted, followed by His response when pushed further:
“This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ And the high priest arose and said to Him, ‘Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?’ But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, ‘I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death.’”
In John 8:5-7, Christ was being tested to see if He would judge the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Him by her accusers, and we see here again His first reaction, followed by His response in verses 6-8: “…Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.”
In these examples, Jesus was patient and did not respond immediately until He had to. This is the same quality that we also need to possess. “… let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
Preparing ourselves and being ready at all times is crucial, which is why we need to have the knowledge through the pages of the Bible as our tool for success: “… always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
There is always a time to speak in silence, and that is by praying to God. We should never be negligent in this, and there is always a time for prayer in any given situation that we are faced with. Just as God was the voice for Moses who guided and directed his words and fought his battles, God will do the same for us when we call out to Him.
God gives us the understanding to determine between right and wrong, when to keep silent, and when to speak up. And when we are in a particular situation where we may be unsure how to respond, we let God know by putting it into His hands, in faith, and we will see just how He will work His wonders.