The book of Ecclesiastes says, "There is a time to speak and a time to be silent." And I am certain that I will spend the rest of my life figuring out when to do either.
I have always regarded Ecclesiastes (along with James and Proverbs) as a book full of practical wisdom. When I am torn on a decision, or don't know what to do in a situation - I often turn to one of these books for help on what is wise. Sometimes this wisdom means confronting the problem and coming face-to-face with the issue at hand. And sometimes, it means stepping away and spending time in prayer, allowing God to do what He does best - taking the issue from my hand.
This has been a life-long, learning process for me. Because my first instinct is always to DO or SAY something. I'm an advocate for injustice. If I believe something is wrong - those close to me will most definitely know about it.
Yet, while advocating is a good thing - arguing isn't (I even wrote a post on this very topic last year). And especially, for followers of Jesus, this can be damaging to our faith and witness if we are not careful.
Last week, I made the mistake of sharing my opinion of this election season on social media. Listen to me when I say - it was a mistake. What I thought would just be an opportunity to offer a different perspective for my friends and family on the election - turned out to just be an opportunity for them to have a different perspective of me. Because, like it or not, people associate you with your opinions. Insults were fired and blame was casted - all because of the way I was choosing to vote/or not vote.
It got so bad that I had to deactivate my Facebook account, for fear of receiving another discouraging Facebook message. My heart just couldn't handle it anymore. I'm sure I'll be back eventually, just probably not until after the heat of this election is over.
There's a reason people say the two things you should never discuss are religion and politics. Because when people tie their identity into something - any criticism towards the subject becomes directed at the person.
And while, for the sake of eternity, I can take the insults about my faith. And for that reason, I will never choose to be silent about what I believe about Jesus.
Politics, on the other hand, is temporary. Not eternal. And my identity and hope will never be found in who I'm voting for. Keeping that in mind, I think this is what Ecclesiastes would refer to as the time to be silent.