John Calvin said, “A dog barks when his master is threatened or attacked. I would be a coward if I saw the truth of God under attack and yet I remained silent.”
Are we, then, less than a dog, when it comes to speaking up an speaking out in defense of God’s honor and His name when truth is attacked and put on trial? Every day, all around us, truth is put on trial and is called a lie, said to be wrong, said to be narrow–it is called all kind of names daily and is twisted, perverted, and changed. The ungodly of this world never hesitate to spread their lies and to put truth down. How can I be less for truth than they are for lies? How can I not speak up for truth consistently?
There are times we should be silent, such as when we are tempted to simply defend ourselves in some situations and give excuses for something. But we often speak up in our own defense. Its then that we probably should be silent rather than speak.
But when it comes to random conversations, water-cooler chit chat at work, lunch discussions, or other such situations, we should always defend truth when it is attacked. If we are there and we don’t speak up, then who will? We are worse than a dog if we won’t defend our Master’s truth when it is blasphemed and ridiculed. Better to speak up and quietly shock everyone there and go away with a clear conscience and a joyful heart than to compromise with silent guilt and be grieved that you would not own your Lord and His cause?
Do we speak when, instead, we should remain silent and do we remain silent when we should speak?
The great temptation to compromise our witness Charles Wesley expresses in one of his hymns:
Shall I, for fear of mortal man
The Spirit’s course in me restrain;
Or undismayed in deed and word,
Be a true witness for my Lord;
Shall I, to soothe the unholy throng,
Soften Thy truths and smooth my tongue?”
May the Lord make us as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. May He make us more courageous, more unmoved, less fearful of men, more loyal to the truth as it is in Jesus, and at least more like the dog that always barks when its master is threatened.
“I want to speak when I should speak,
And not draw back when truth’s attacked,
To be Your voice, who died for me;
Open my mouth to own Your shame.
Save me from cowardice in all my ways,
Save me from fear of men each day;
Save me from faltering with mind and will,
O, sanctify my will, my heart, my tongue.
Lord, help me speak your honor round,
And never fear to own Your cause;
Set free my heart and then my tongue
Make me a fearless, speaking son. — (MT)
– Mack Tomlinson