On the Wisdom of When to Speak and When Not to Speak

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words (Proverbs 23:9, NIV).

In my ongoing quest to share with you, reader, what I have gleaned from a long-term close study of God’s Word as well as from sources such as Sun Tzu’s  Art of War, the “10/80/10 Theory” and others on the topic of survival, both practical and spiritual, one of my frequent meditations is on when, how, and why Jesus spoke or acted in some way in response to His enemies and when He remained silent in both word and action.

For each response was powerful as well as perfectly expedient in its unique context.

For example, to the cynical, He acted out and spoke an ancient truth from the very Scriptures they ought to have known as religious leaders:

1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.
2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.” 
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?
4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests.
5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?
6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.
7If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’you would not have condemned the innocent.
8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  (Matthew 12:1-8, NIV)

Yet when His time had come to yield to the trial, torture, and murder perpetrated by His enemies at the time of His earthly mission to die as the “Spotless Lamb” slain for our sins, both in action and in words He remained silent. Submissive.

He yielded to God’s plan for His only Son, the plan both God the Father and the God the Son prophesied from the get-go, as foretold in Genesis 3:15 and throughout the Old Testament, for the redemption of you and I. The account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion is found here (also from Matthew’s Gospel).

I bring up this topic today because in the spiritual world we now live in where simmering anti-Christian forces have seemingly come to a rolling boil globally, may true believers are becoming aware that some actions and words against this not only existential but also supernatural evil will no longer suffice in certain situations.

It may be time in those situations to, as those recovering from abusive relationships put it, go “no contact” (with the abusers) in both action and word.

Jesus, Himself, could be said to have gone “no contact” with certain of those whose “hearts” He knew were wicked, and to whom He did not entrust Himself.

It may be time to gather together specifically and more frequently with those of like mind spirit and seek the Lord for perhaps a new “spiritual battle plan,”* at this crux of spiritual–and mortal–history when the rise in persecution against Christians is at an all time high, for when it is neither expedient nor wise to act, react, or (attempt to) reason with our enemies.

However, many are unaware of the critical state of anti-Christian persecution as it stands today, particularly as false christs are pushing self-help sermons, prosperity programs, and business-models of church growth.

Here is some statistical insight into, and possible reasons for, this lack of awareness, covered in an article in the Independent by Paul Vallaly, former Chief Rabbi, “Christians: The world’s most persecuted people” (7/27/14):

According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians…

Why? Vallaly continues,

In part, it is because our intelligentsia are locked into old ways of thinking about Christianity as the dominant force in Western historic hegemony. The church has not helped in this, with its fixation on pious religiosity and on cultural issues that it falsely regards as totemic – issues such as gay marriage and women bishops.

A bogus dichotomy between religion and equality has been set up, resulting in a succession of comparatively trivial new stories about receptionists being banned from wearing religious jewellery or nurses being suspended for offering to pray for patients’ recovery. Adopting the rhetoric of persecution on such matters obscures the very real persecution of Christians being killed or driven from their homes elsewhere in the globe…

I would add that Christians in the west may still be operating under the assumption that religious freedom is still in full operation and there is just some “misunderstanding” going on about any real persecution,

However, the reality is, in today’s political milieu it has become nearly impossible to penetrate the sensibilities of the ragers as they close their minds and emotions more and more around inflammatory rhetoric, the incessant drumbeat of hate, and the obfuscation of the truth, aka “fake news,” used to perpetrate lies, both Big lies and every other kind as an anti-Christian spirit, particularly against the Judeo-Christian heritage on which freedom-oriented Western Civilization was founded and continues as a work in progress, comes into the sites of ideological adherents  to totalitarianism that ultimately enslaves. And murders. And destroys…

Specifically, what has inspired me today to add to my studies and share them with you, again, is the commentary by Matthew Henry on the Proverbs 23:9 verse I used as my epigraph, above.

In his own study and meditation on God’s Word and guidance, Henry incorporates the nature of our “enemy,” the nature of his adherents, and includes, I would add, the need for another form of “no contact” in order to “hold our peace” while “trying (testing, considering) the wisdom” of a response, if responding at all (emphasis added):

We are here directed not to cast pearls before swine (Mt. 7:6 ) and not to expose things sacred to the contempt and ridicule of profane scoffers. It is our duty to take all fit occasions to speak of divine things; but, 1. There are some that will make a jest of every thing, though it be ever so prudently and pertinently spoken, that will not only despise a wise man’s words, but despise even the wisdom of them, that in them which is most improvable for their own edification; they will particularly reproach that, as if it had an ill design upon them, which they must guard against. 2. Those that do so forfeit the benefit of good advice and instruction, and a wise man is not only allowed, but advised, not to speak in the ears of such fools; let them be foolish still, and let not precious breath be thrown away upon them. If what a wise man says in his wisdom will not be heard, let him hold his peace, and try whether the wisdom of that will be regarded.

However, friends and saints, this can be very difficult in what I, along with many, view as “end times” when even family members will war against family members; loved ones, against loved ones.

Remain diligent or, as my sister Barbara often prays, “remain awake, aware, and alert,” asking God to “lead, guide, direct–and protect” you always.

Carry on in Christ.


*For the ultimate “Art of (Spiritual) War” treatise, to combat our real struggle which, as noted in Ephesians 6:12, “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places,” see Ephesians 6:10-18:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powersof this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

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2 Responses to On the Wisdom of When to Speak and When Not to Speak

  1. A great post, Phyllis. Timely wise words in the face of increasing scorn and ridicule from anti-Christian quarters. There are a number of Proverbs to quote on this subject. ‘The eyes of the Lord see knowledge safe preserved, but he confounds the words of liars’ (22.12); Wise men’s lips keep guard on knowledge, not so the heart of fools’ (15.7);’ The virtuous man hates lying words, but the wicked man slanders and defames’ (13.5); ‘Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool makes ruin imminent’ (10.14).


    • pbn says:

      Hi, Colin,

      I haven’t done an actual count, but I think it is very likely that conversation, both wise and wicked, is discussed more often than any other subject in the Bible when it comes to both how we are to conduct our communication, how we are not to, and how to know both the fruit and the failure, so to speak, of a man’s/woman’s heart when it comes to its core condition.

      The book of Proverbs, in particular, also issues many warnings about being observant and wary in the presence of those with a deceptive heart because it is so easy to con people with well-oiled word-craft, as it were, particularly in the political realm.

      Having taught innumerable lessons on rhetoric–the good, the bad, and the spin which is often a combination of both because there is always a little bit of truth in every lie–I have a great deal of respect for verbal skill along with a great deal of fear of it when it issues from the mouths and pens of the “wicked,” as Proverbs would describe verbal con artists.

      Especially those who understand that, as my mother used to say, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

      Add to verbal skill, an acceptable educational pedigree (whether or not the educational institutions are deceptive themselves in terms of what political ideology has bought them off), the financial backing to run for office (my father always used to say, “He’s the best politician money can buy”), and a good “look” which could be a “statesman” look or a youthful, “hip, slick, and cool” look, and you have a potent, persuasive, political presentation.

      In other words, in the easily corrupted political arena, the more “beauty, bucks, and brains” a contender has, the easier it is to fool the people, at east for a little while, enough to get elected, especially if your presentation includes lies…

      Of course, when we take time and “due the diligence” of careful vetting and critical thinking, we can resist such seduction, but it requires dedication.

      And in this day and age when it has become so frighteningly easy to con people because so many have allowed themselves, many, unwittingly, to be led along by the speed and clever word-smithing of social media, it is especially important to unplug, power-down, and ignore the chatter…

      IF I have learned one thing in my ongoing study of the ways and wiles of evil, it is that if one thing doesn’t work, our real enemy behind the scenes who powers the enemies we see, just becomes more and more clever, subtler, and deadly in his quest to destroy all that is true, good, and beautiful.

      I have a great deal of respect in that way, for the brilliance of the evil one.

      However, because he is, after all, a created being lacking all the “omni’s,” i.e., he is NOT omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient, I’ll stick with God’s ways and His wisdom. Of the two expressions, “God is in the details,” and “the devil is in the details,” I pick the former because Satan is, of course, God’s creation, and has many limitations.

      The Bible is full of counter-measures–and the end game for our real enemy is his own destruction.

      Jesus exemplified many of the ways of resistance, beginning with successfully resisting Satan’s first trio of temptations aimed at Him after His desert fast by countering each temptation with the Word of God Luke 4:1-13).

      We are also wise to know this spiritual ordnance because knowing the Word in print, in the flesh (Jesus), and spoken, is power.

      No matter what beauty, bucks, and brains appear to be overcoming the masses–or the one–at any given point in time.

      Cheers and blessings,

      Liked by 1 person

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