They don’t ask. We don’t tell.

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We all make mistakes. Apparently I’ve been mistaken about the importance of communicating the gospel in words.

I have been taken aside and had it explained to me that my life must speak, not my words.

I must be silent until my life is like Christ and people are compelled to ask me why.

Then I’m allowed to answer.

This happened to Jesus all the time. He never spoke to anyone, unless they first asked him why he was different. Sometimes he got it wrong. Like the time he went to his home town, to the people who knew him best—his friends, neighbors, and extended family in Nazareth.

After living among them for most of his thirty years, he thought his life had spoken, and now he could speak. He was wrong. No sooner had he opened his mouth than they rushed upon him and tried to throw him over a cliff.

That’s what happens when you speak too early. If you wait long enough people will accept you.

Jesus' disciples got it wrong most of the time. They spoke about Jesus too much, and offended people. So Jesus was always having to tell them to stop talking about him. When they refused he had to teach them what to do when they got persecuted.

Stephen could have lived a long and Christ-like life, if only he hadn’t made that insensitive speech in Acts 7. What was he thinking?

Paul, there’s a failure of a missionary. Everywhere he goes he speaks! Sure lots of people believed, churches were planted, yada yada . . . But count how many times he refused to be silent until they got to know him. So they mocked him, beat him, put him in jail, or ran him out of town—he wouldn’t shut up.

If only the saints and would-be missionaries down through the ages had let their lives, rather than their words, speak. How much more peaceful the world would have been. How many martyrs died unnecessarily.

Blessed are you when people say nice things about you. Let your life speak, not your words. Trust in your own godliness, not in the message of the crucified and risen Savior.