to speak or not ?

Dec 4, 2020

“Then Jesus sternly warned them,
‘Take care that no one learns about this.’
But when they had gone,
they talked about him all over the countryside.”
Matthew 9:31


“All that is required for evil to prosper
is that good people remain silent”.


“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
Will Rogers


It seems a bit strange when we are encouraged so much to share our faith with others, to hear Jesus sternly orders his disciples to tell no-one about the great miracles he had just performed. There are a few other times in the scriptures where Jesus (who in other moments tells his followers to take the good news to the ends of the earth,) instructs his friends to be silent.

How are we to read this?

Here’s my take:

Christianity is not a programmed code of moral and legal behaviour with black and white answers for every situation. If it were, we could set our bearings at the moment of baptism and charge ahead ignoring anything that seems to stand in our path threatening to distract or confuse us.

Christianity is not a one-size-fits-all off-the-rack uniform.

So it’s no surprise that there are some moments when we need to speak up, and other situations in which it is better to remain silent, and even shake the dust from our feet as we leave town.

Christianity is a life that is an adequate response to the desires of human heart. Our faith provides our way of living in relationship with Jesus Christ, with every other person, and with all of creation. Healthy humans are not programmed robots ready-loaded with Siri-type answers to every question and pre-formatted comments to drop into any conversation.

Every situation requires its own discernment.

Our Christian faith is the way to live fully, engaging with every complex and changing situations without fear, knowing that Jesus enters human existence not through well-rehearsed speeches constructed from theologically precise cliché’s. We need to live and act and speak in unique situations not described or even anticipated in the gospels or scriptures and therefore our only hope and stability is personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Christian faith is an encounter with God-with-us, found most of all in the unexpected, unwanted, unwarranted messy and mundane routines and crises of human life.

Perhaps this is why God arranged for Jesus to be born not in a well-ordered maternity suite, but in a stable?


An Invitation:

  • How does the reflection above speak to your own life?
  • Prayer requests continue to come in and the most recent requests will appear now at the top of this list.




  1. Such a timely reflection for me. I have been awake wondering the best way to handle my current situation. Usually I quietly say nothing the past few days I wonder if it is time to speak up. Please pray that I do the most loving thing. It is truely messy as the birth of new life often is and pruning cuts may hurt. However the vigor of the fruit and new shoots makes it worth it. My delema… Or do I shake the dust from my feet. It would be so much easier.

  2. It always amazes me how sometimes words just come from my mouth, and I think….. where has that come from?? …
    (Deep down I know )

    • there is a deep knowing when this happens to me too Jane.

  3. Thanks so much for reminding me to be ready to see Jesus in the other, especially the needy or difficult.

  4. John, great and reassuring words from you that remind us that what we say and what we do will never be perfect. I’ll keep looking for God amongst the chaos of the day.

  5. Sometimes there is a “little tiny voice” that tells me to speak up – often when I would rather not! I’m sure it’s the Holy Spirit quietly telling me and I have discovered that it is better not to ignore that “little voice!” Thank you Father, Son and Spirit for your presence in our lives! Thank you, John, for reminding us of the encounter with ‘God-with-us!’

  6. Perhaps Jesus, being aware of human frailty, was using this to get the message out there.
    Remember, if you want a secret broadcast far and wide swear the people who hear or see it to secrecy and it’s as good as on the front page of the newspaper. Human nature put to good use.
    Or is Jesus not that duplicitous.


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