By Gerald Cowan
There have been times, more of them than I would like to admit, when I have not spoken up about something, even though I knew my one voice might have made a significant difference and done some good. Sometimes I do not know just what to say or how I should be involved. But while I delay the opportunity passes, and I often think later, “I could have said... I should have said... I wish I had said.” Then I usually regret having said nothing, especially when derogatory comments have been made about the church or some member of it. As the wise man said, “There is a time to speak as well as a time to keep silent” (Eccl. 3:7). But it sometimes takes more wisdom than we possess, except in retrospect, to known whether to speak or be silent. I am sure we err more often by speaking inappropriately than not speaking at all. Right now I want to emphasize the importance of speaking up, saying something when it needs to be said and while it can still do some good.
Sometimes the most important action in a crisis situation is the voice of one person speaking the truth. God chose Moses as the voice to speak to and against Pharaoh, the voice who would present His words to the nation of Israel (Exodus 3 and 4). He chose John the Baptist to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3). On a different but also significant level, it was the one voice of Barnabas that put Saul/Paul in good standing with the church in Jerusalem – the beginning a great ministry for Christ (Acts 9:26-29). Acquila and Priscilla cared enough about the truth and the preacher of truth to take Apollos aside and instruct him more perfectly. That, and a letter from one church to another – two voices that elicited a chorus of other voice – formed a helpful bridge for an important ministry (Acts 18:24-28). I can think of times, no doubt you can too, when, discouraged by some failure, inadequacy, or enemy I was minded to turn aside, give up, or quit. But I was persuaded by one or a few who gave me the encouragement needed, at the time it was needed, to keep on track and stay in the fight for what was right. I can remember times when I was on the wrong track and might have stayed there until complete failure and destruction but some observant and caring person took me to task about it, and put me on the path to correction and restoration (Gal. 6:1-2 comes to mind here). Looking back I can say, “I would still be astray and on the wrong path except for the grace of God shown to me by the concern of a Christian brother or sister.” And I do thank God that the person chose to speak and not to be silent. I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.
If there is someone in your area of influence who needs to hear your voice of encouragement, support, exhortation, admonition, advice, correction, or concern – please let your voice be heard. Even if it is only one voice, your voice, let it be heard.
- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com