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Daily Devotional: “The Right To Remain Silent?”

Judge banging gavel in court

I witnessed some grievous gossip the other day. And I remained silent. The conversation troubled my spirit. But still I said nothing. Perhaps it was because I was in another room, and simply overheard the verbal beat down. Perhaps it was because it was two seasoned Christian women trashing a fellow believer, and I was shocked by such bad behavior.

It was character assassination in its foulest form. I remember feeling disgusted that both ladies took great delight in feasting on juicy hearsays that fed their flesh but poisoned their spirit. James penned it well when he said, “The tongue is an unruly evil and full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

But what should I have done? Did I have the right to remain silent? Perhaps. But in this case I also had the responsibility to speak up. If we are members of one body, that attack against a fellow Christian was also an attack against me. And if I am my brother’s keeper should I not seek to protect him? And if I love my “seasoned” sisters who were spreading gossip, should I not rebuke them in love?

Sometimes when fellow Christians behave badly we shy away from taking them to task. But our silence can be a tacit approval of their unkind conduct. In some instances, the power of a silent tongue can be just as harmful as a tongue that spews poisonous criticism.

Remember how the Apostle Peter’s silence enraged the Apostle Paul? Peter was accustomed to shooting the breeze and eating dinner with his newly converted Gentile friends in Antioch. Ordinarily, Jews would not be found dead eating with Gentiles. It was considered unclean. But these Gentiles were Christians. One day, Peter was eating with his gentile buddies when some Jews showed up. He quickly eased away from the table and separated himself. That spoke volumes.

The Apostle Paul saw Peter’s silent treatment as hypocritical and rebuked him publically. The drama plays out in Galatians 2:11-14.

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