The Fine, Manly Art of Shutting Up


Some Christians do strange things. Personal separations due to sin or compromise are sometimes a necessary thing. It’s always sad. Separation itself is perhaps for a different post, or series of them. But what is strange is when someone separates from you, not because you sinned or compromised, but because you didn’t support the things you both agree on with the same level of enthusiasm. You simply reasoned that if you’re both in agreement and right, that you’re both right. That’s it. And yet, some men often feel more heroic for being the loudest about being right and they feel the most heroic for being the most appalled when they see wrong doing. Being that way does not make one more right. They’re still only just right. 

Bleacher Bums…

I liken this scenario to three men who are Red Sox fans cheering from the bleachers at a game. They’re all cheering, but one is not as loud and boisterous as the other two. The two then conclude the third guy must be a closet Yankees fan and be immediately criticized and castigated for “not taking a stand”. For all they know, he may be a “Super fan” and perhaps has his entire house is filled with expensive Red Sox memorabilia that would make them look like complete rubes. He’s just a little more subtle and calculating about his fandom and chooses to save his voice during the game because he might need it for more important things later. In the end, his ways of supporting the team may actually be more productive than just trash talking the Yankee right fielder like his buddies.

Sometimes, Christians are like this. Some are content to be Christians in everyday, calm, and productive ways that take years to yield fruit. Others are outspoken and screaming from the bleachers in hopes the other guy drops the ball, and he thinks thinks you should join him in his efforts (Consider Proverbs 10:19). Thus we have the outspoken brother, and the content brother.

Wrongful Separations…

Many friendships have been lost between Christians who were in agreement simply because one has a fleshly need to be recognized as right while the other is content to just be right. The one who needs the recognition, we’ll call him the outspoken brother, views the content brother as weak and lacking in fervency. The truth is, the content brother is often the stronger one because he tempers himself enough to put away his flesh’s desire to win. He’s often more respected and his words more frequently taken to heart by those who disagree with him. Whereas the outspoken brother is often dismissed by his opponents the moment he opens his mouth because of the aggressive way he rebuttals without seeking to fully understand the other person’s position (See Proverbs 10:31). He cares less about listening and more about being heard (See Proverbs 11:12, The outspoken brother is often childish and churlish because to him, winning matters more than the satisfaction of having done right. To the outspoken brother, truth itself is not as important as being recognized as an arbiter of truth. And though he may speak the words of God, he does so because Gods words are the surest way to win arguments, and he simply loves winning. He essentially uses the Word of God as a club to satiate his desire to brawl, but rarely uses it to produce careful introspection- despite claiming that he does- a non-falsifiable claim if ever there was one.

Subtle misuse of Scripture…

Using the Bible in this way is perhaps the most subtle and insidious way in which a man can present himself as a servant of God but mostly just be serving himself. It’s subtle enough that he himself is convinced he’s doing a holy work (because after all he’s using the Bible!) yet he has a zeal that not even the Lord Himself would own. It’s a zeal with some Bible knowledge but no wisdom regarding when, where, and how to use it. Though meant to reflect the image of God, the image this outspoken brother values most is his own. Walking away from an argument that he appears to have lost eats him up inside (See Proverbs 11:17). He will perpetually feel unfinished and unsatisfied about the interaction until he can accost his opponent once again and present his case- whether it wants to be heard or not. This kind of Christian will continue their descent into oblivion where not even other Christians will take their words to heart. Why? Because no one can ever truly be sure exactly why the outspoken brother speaks- to help others or to simply win arguments? It is possible to do both of those things simultaneously, of course, but people lose trust in the outspoken brother because their motives are unclear even when he speaks true words.


Don’t be this guy

And not just because he’s hipster looking.

Being easily entreated…

For the content brother however, people listen to him because any who oppose his beliefs aren’t afraid of a conversation with him devolving into a battle in which one must come out the victor in some epic conflict of the ages. No. He’s simply a principled man; a man of conviction who stands when he must and when he should. He has no need of affirmation or the appearance of victory. He’s simply content to be right and do right wether he convinces others to come with him or not.

We must check what we believe against the Bible and make sure it’s right. We don’t need to be exuberant and fanatical about our rightness. Just be right. Just remain right. Speak up when you should. Be willing to accept looking like the loser of an argument even when you’re not. Be a man of principle, a man of conscience, and a man of conviction, a man who is confident and quiet and sees no need to be otherwise. (Read Isaiah 30:15-17 in it’s context)

Besides, if you believe the right things, then you know there’s coming a day when the Lord will vindicate you. The judgement seat of Christ will sort out who the faithful servants of God really are. And though few knew your name, they’ll never forget the recognition you get from Jesus at the Bema seat. And perhaps many of those men who many have heard of in this life will stand ashamed before Jesus. Why? Because perhaps they served and toiled for themselves and not for Him. They served for the recognition of their peers and their enemies, the endorphin rush of winning, and the proud feeling of seeing themselves as one of the last true “fans”. They will perhaps fair better at the Bema seat if they would learn the simple art of a word fitly spoken (Proverbs 25:11) and the fine manly art of shutting up. (See Proverbs 29:11)