A Time To Speak
In Mark3:1-6, we have an account of Jesus healing a man with a withered hand in the synagogue. Several things are noteworthy in this record. First of all, we are told the motives of the Pharisees so that we can see into their hearts just as clearly as our Lord could as He stood before them. They were waiting for Him to act "in order that they might accuse him."
The second thing I see is that when Jesus asked a question to get them to reveal their own convictions "...they kept silent." Does this not seem strange for men who seem to have such concrete opinions, as the Pharisees did, about how to serve God? It may seem a little less strange if we consider that this would be the exact method used by hypocrites whose "convictions" could be molded to suit the occasion. They would not want to commit themselves to any position until they saw what sort of situation it would put them into, no matter how right it might be.
Again, I note that Jesus is "grieved," He is "angry," and it was their stubborn hearts that made him that way. Their hard hearts would not even allow them to say that healing this man's hand was a good thing. When our "positions" force us to not even be able to say a good thing is good, we had better be re-thinking the issue.
But lastly, there is a point of human nature here that needs to be identified. Can we notice on this occasion that those whose minds were already made up and whose hearts were stubbornly resistant were paying close attention to the Master. They were given the opportunity to take a part in this teaching session and commend the good work that Jesus was about to do. They could have been a positive voice and taken their side with the Lord. Instead, as the opportunity to do good and speak good things arose, they remained silent. They had made their choice to watch Jesus and accuse. Their voices were only going to be used for destructive purposes. And sure enough, verse 6 says that is exactly what they did. This is the mating of human nature and opportunity that is so often seen. When opportunities for honor and praise and encouragement and commendation come along, we are silent, while the accusers, and grumblers, and fault finders always await their opportunity to speak.
The point of this article is "not" to rebuke those with destructive tongues and admonish them to silence. That point is too obvious and we do not expect hearts that are hardened in that way to respond to such a humble plea. No, the point of this article is pointed the other way, to those with good hearts who have decided that they will follow Christ. To these good people we offer encouragement. I believe that in different ways, Jesus is still speaking and teaching today. And I believe that from time to time we are presented with opportunities to speak good things. Do not take the easy way of the fault seeking Pharisees. People and brethren (being human) will always make mistakes that you "can" seize on and point out to others if you wish. Let me encourage you to not let an opportunity to speak of good things pass you by. If your wife is "fixed up," tell her she's pretty. If a person puts forth some effort, appreciate it. When the Lord gives you opportunity to take His side and encourage, build up, strengthen, help, commend or amen - take it. It is the time to speak! Those that criticize and demean others always seem to find opportunities to speak. It is time that more good folk used the same opportunities. God bless your efforts on behalf of others.
By Carl MacMurray
From Expository Files 3.5; May 1996