Silent, Sweet and Sinful

There are times when Christians should be silent.  We ought not be characterized by being loud, defiant, brazen and obnoxious.

There are times when Christians should be sweet.  We are to strive to live peaceably with all men.  We should follow Christ’s model.  A believer should seek to be a winsome breath of fresh air in the neighborhood.

However, there are times when being silent and sweet are greatly sinful in the eyes of God.  I wonder, is God greatly disappointed with our sweet silence today?

Ezekiel 1–3     In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God  …  There was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them  …   “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul ….”

Ezekiel was summoned by God, placed in a trance of some sort, and privileged to see a divine-human form sitting on a heavenly throne.  Fire and light proceeded from him; the Heavenly King was  glorious!  Then the Lord spoke to him.  Ezekiel was to receive God’s Word, go, and preach it faithfully to a people who would show little interest in what he was saying.  He was to preach to a rebellious audience – one that would mock him and then endeavor to do him harm.  Nevertheless, he was not to fear or be culturally pragmatic.  Ezekiel was to be God’s man who spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  He was not to be silent.  He was not to be sweet.  Ezekiel was to faithfully communicate God’s Law, man’s sin, and the hellish consequences to follow.  For him not to express God’s revelation clearly and fully would be a great transgression.

The Apostle James tells us that if we know to do good, and do it not, we are guilty of sin. (James 4:17)   Luke reminds us of Jesus’ teaching, “To whom much is given, much shall be required.” (Luke 12:48)   Therefore, putting Ezekiel, James and Luke together, I conclude we must not always be silent and sweet as we live the Christian life and communicate the thoughts of God.  We have the Scriptures; we will be held responsible for how we use them.

So, as a pastor, I regularly get to express the sweet tenants of Christianity.  I love preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.  However, as a God-ordained minister of the Gospel, I must present God’s anger as well.  Yes, my God is sweet and loving, but he is also holy and full of wrath.  I am very aware that people will not like hearing such negative news.  I am aware that attendance may suffer following hell, fire and brimstone preaching.  However, Paul tells us to “consider the goodness and severity of God.”  God is love, and He is also a consuming fire.  As a minister, I get to be silent sometimes.  I get to be sweet quite often.  And to be a faithful watchman, I must regularly present men  as “sinners in the hands of an angry God.”

As a Christian, you and I are often engaged in conversations regarding politics, religions, morality and social ethics.  We do not need to always opine.  However, it is a beautiful thing when someone asks our opinion; it shows they value what we are thinking.  When that happens, we should never soften or diminish the truth found in God’s Word.  Whether the issue is gay marriage, Islam, abortion, hell, the Miami Dolphins or typhoons, we should be bold and truthful in proclaiming the wisdom of God.  To be silent or ecumenically sweet can be sinful.  Truth is not tolerant.

Therefore, I would conclude by urging that we communicate after the manner of Jesus.  On some occasions he was silent.  On other occasions he was most vocal.  Quite often Jesus was sweet and tender, but there were times when he was most abrasive and offensive.  However, when he spoke, he spoke true truth.  There was no alteration in the message of God.

May we be such ministers in the church, in the marketplace, in the academy, and in the home.  God is opposed to those who soften or twist his message.  He has not asked us to improve his message, but to faithfully instruct our neighbors.

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