Mending the Tear By Knowing When to Speak

…A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak…  Ecclesiastes 3:7.


By now anyone would get the rhythm of these pithy little truths.  They speak into our lives such a wealth of simple reality that we have to just nod and agree.  What we usually miss, however, is the scope of their reach.

Knowing when to mend or tear relates to us in the physical realm quite easily because we can assess the damage.  The spiritual world baffles most of us as does the heart of a person.  We can’t know the motives of the heart anymore than we can know what is in the secret regions of God.  God might choose to open a window of understanding so we can gain some sort of grasp on the truth hidden there, but this is a privilege won by being trustworthy, not by works or we would boast about our status.

The Knowledge of the right time to speak or shut up, mend or tear only arrives when we submit to the wisdom of heaven.  I don’t know many people who succeed at the “knowing” part all that well.  Most of us make decisions based on the evidence and circumstances we have available then hope for the best.  This is called “wisdom” and is no guarantee of success.  As much as the self-help gurus would like to preach otherwise, making all the right decisions doesn’t make for success or prosperity—internally or financially.

When a person invests in a community their fate becomes linked to the outcome of that community’s choices and investments.  If this community continues to use wise careful consideration of its assets and investments, the outcome is more likely to be positive.  Unfortunately, nature plays a part in our plans as well.  If nature takes a turn for the worse—say a drought or hurricane—there’s nothing the community can do to change the outcome for the foreseeable future until the problem ends.  No one can ever fully divest themselves from the actions of others, which makes decisions a real pain, quite honestly.

Question:  Why should I be held responsible for the bad choices of someone else?

Answer:  We’re not responsible, just caught in the web of their natural consequences.

What has this got to do with tearing, mending, speaking or being quiet?

Every choice demands another choice.  We cannot escape the outcomes we’ve purchased by our efforts.  Oh, the specific outcome might vary from the expected, but then there are always a few to choose from aren’t there.

The very fact that Solomon mentions tearing and silence as the “balance” of mending and speaking should give us pause.  I hear a lot of talk about what love is and how it should be expressed.  Some would take issue (and do from the discussions I’ve had) with the “negative” part of these statements.  Yet these same people will rip apart a family through divorce if the marriage is dragging them down.  I’m not saying they don’t feel anything or that they’re completely heartless, rather these types of thinkers don’t consider “looking out for themselves” as part of list.

It is, though.

The moment we take care of business we move into the realm of timely living.  It’s impossible not to look at life with some sort of balance sheet, ticking off the different goals and obligations we engender throughout a lifetime of being.  I don’t know of too many people who wouldn’t relate to Newton’s third law of physics in its basic form—To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction…for we live with this everyday and continue to practice it in both the physical and social worlds.

To tear something we must know the purpose the tearing will serve or it becomes a worthless, and quite possibly harmful, exercise.  In the Jewish culture, tearing one’s garments was a public sign of distress, an expression of extreme anguish brought on by grief or humiliation.  There would be a time to tear the garment and when the grieving finished, mending the tear.  Some people don’t ever mend the torn spots in their garments or spirits, opting instead to live with the brokenness as some sort of badge or banner to their loss or social disgrace.

In keeping with this, there is a time to speak up and take notice of something bad or good in order to identify.  There is also a time when speaking into a situation or person’s life will do no good—especially once we’ve said the same thing several times.  But if we don’t speak up when we see evil, we bear part of the responsibility for the outcome of it.  At the same time, acknowledging evil is different than being able to fight it or stand against it successfully.  I know of very little in the way of opposition that could stand against a powerful nation in a full on confrontation, but there are other ways to win against the big dogs.

Ecclesiastes 9:17, 18 The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.  Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

We can’t always win within our lifetimes for the grinding wheels of change take a while to effectively infiltrate the world around us.  But if we don’t speak up, those words may never be heard—or won’t be for a long era.  Change is not about seeing results instantly rather we see the incremental adjustments and affected areas grow healthier by degrees.  I may speak a word into my son’s life now that will only come back to him when he’s an adult and faced with the situation.  I may not even be alive when he considers what I said, but that’s not the point.

Yet the more the words the less the effectiveness which doesn’t benefit anyone.  So, weighing out what we plan to say is far more profitable than blurting it out.  I tend towards effusiveness (in case you haven’t noticed); giving people wa-a-a-a-a-a-y too much information to process in a short amount of time.  I’m learning what a powerful tool silence is.  In fact, the truth be known, I’m finding out the less I say, the more what I do say impacts those who listen.

If we learn the lesson of timeliness, we gain the best tool in our arsenal of social and personal growth packages we could find.  I have a long way to go…


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4 Responses to “Mending the Tear By Knowing When to Speak”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Hmmm seems we both having timing on our minds these days as you’ll see in my next post.

    Timing is everything in our lives and I agree that each choice begets another choice. This is why you must think of others. When temptation comes and we succumb we think it only affects ourselves, however while sin may be personal it’s never private, it affects many.

    It’s up to us to use wisdom and knowledge to know when a truth well spoken is necessary and when we need to be quiet, when we need to walk out a choice and when that choice becomes too complicated and involves too many. Great post.

  2. Ula Says:

    Thanks for another great post, Jonny. You really are blessed with deep insights into life. I hope you will consider compiling your posts into a publication. It would bless many more. 🙂

    • jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

      Thank you, Ula. One of the reasons I’m writing is to hone my craft and to air my thoughts on a subject in order to make sure they are communicated well enough, so I appreciate input because it allows for a more interactive process. 😉

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