Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

August 2022 Issue

Develop the Discipline to RISE ABOVE

From the May 2022 Issue

Your Voice: Living Out Loud

Online Exclusive: From This Point Forward

Your Voice: Living Out Loud

You know this expression: “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” While usually it suggests a negative outcome, in general it illustrates the principle of a tipping point—the moment at which one event totally alters the future. In any other context, a single event might make no difference at all. But in the right place, at the right time, with the right person, it can make all the difference.

Let’s use what was a very complex situation as an example. The northern tribes of Israel were conquered and scattered by the Assyrians. Then the two southern tribes were conquered and deported to Babylon for 70 years of exile. Persia conquered Babylon and the Persian king released the Jewish people to return to Judah. But after a century of assimilation, more Jews remained in Persia than returned to Judah.

Haman, an official of the Persian king, saw an opportunity to rid the world of the Jews still living in Persia. But Haman underestimated the courage of the young Jewish girl, Esther, who the king had taken as his wife. With fear and trembling, Esther approached the king and begged him to spare her people. She exposed the plot of Haman and prevented what would have been an act of genocide comparable to the Holocaust that occurred in Germany centuries later. The king put Haman to death and preserved the Jews.

Esther’s words represented a tipping point that changed the destiny of the Jewish people. And she spoke to the king at great risk to herself. Even though Esther was the king’s wife, it was considered inappropriate to approach the king. Esther had a choice: Speak up and hopefully save her people or remain silent and see them exterminated. She chose to speak up, and the Jews were saved.

It was Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, who convinced Esther she needed to speak to the king: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) When we are God’s person, in God’s time, and in God’s place, that is the time to speak for God!

A Person, a Time, a Place

Sometimes we feel: “It’s neither the time nor the place—and I am certainly not the person—to speak out for God.” We often feel inadequate for the task, but what would have happened to the Jews dwelling in Persia if Esther had thought it was “neither the time nor place” to speak out?

This goes back to the issue of God’s providence. Who are we to think that God has not brought us to a particular time and place to speak out for Him? Yes, speaking against some evil behavior or trend in society can be difficult, even dangerous. Think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaking out against Hitler, William Wilberforce speaking out against England’s slave trade, Martin Luther speaking against the abuses of Rome, or Rosa Parks speaking out against the evils of racism. All those people paid a price for speaking out for God and biblical principles.

But think how many other opportunities there are to speak for Jesus. How many people do we encounter who simply need a word of consolation or counsel, a word of friendship or favor, a word of gratitude or grace? I dare say each of us encounters people in similar situations multiple times every day.

A plain reading of the four Gospels and the epistles demonstrates that Jesus and the apostles let their voices be heard in both kinds of situations—the difficult places and the daily places. If we believe that we are led by the Spirit in our lives, we have to do what they did and speak as they did.

Besides the fear of speaking out in difficult situations, we often remain silent for this reason: “What difference could I possibly make?” To think that way is to take upon ourselves far more importance than we deserve. It is God who uses our obedience and our faithfulness to change the future. We can’t see the future, but God can. We can never presume to know what difference our words might or might not make.

Our job is not to evaluate our eloquence, knowledge, level of influence, or any other factor. If we believe we are standing on holy ground—ground to which God has led us for that moment—that is all we need to know. We need to speak as God gives us utterance and boldness and leave the results to Him.

But let us be reminded: Scripture, especially Proverbs and James, warns us about the danger of words spoken out of place. Once spoken, words cannot be taken back. We must never be afraid to speak of our faith in Christ; we must always be careful to speak with grace, with words “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Everyone deserves to hear God’s opinion; not everyone needs to hear ours!

But if we are God’s person, in God’s place, at God’s time and argue with God about using our voice for Him . . .  Let Moses’ example show us how unwise a choice that is.

God’s Person, Time, and Place

Forty years had passed since Moses fled Egypt to save his life (Exodus 2:11-15). For four decades he had hidden in Midian where he was safe from the long arm of Egyptian justice. He thought he would live out his days in safe obscurity with his Midianite family. But one day, standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5), God called Moses to speak for Him in Egypt. Moses’ worst nightmare had arrived: Return to Egypt, go into the royal court, and tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go.

Moses tried five different ways to convince God that He had the wrong man, the wrong time, and the wrong place:

  1. “Who am I?” (Exodus 3:11). Moses couldn’t possibly imagine that he, a Midianite shepherd, was the appropriate person to go and speak to Pharaoh. God’s answer: “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:11-12). When we focus on ourselves, we will never believe we are the person to speak for God. But if God is with us, we always are that person.
  2. “Who shall I say has sent me?” (Exodus 3:13). In other words, Moses thought he lacked authority. He thought neither the Hebrews nor the Egyptians would be impressed. God’s answer: “I am the God of the covenant, the God of your fathers, the eternal God who never changes.” (See Exodus 3:13-14.) When we speak for God, He is our authority.
  3. “What if no one believes me?” (Exodus 4:1). Moses was focused on the possible outcomes of his speaking for God instead of focusing on obeying God. God’s answer: “When you speak for me, they will be without excuse.”
  4. “I am not an eloquent speaker! I won’t know what to say” (Exodus 4:10). Again, Moses was focused on himself instead of on God. God’s answer: “I will give you the words to speak” (see Mark 13:11).
  5. “Please send someone else!” (Exodus 4:13). Moses crossed the line and “the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (verse 14).

We all have offered up some version(s) of Moses’ five objections. As we know, his objections were unfounded. God used Moses to speak for Him and to secure the release of the Hebrew slaves.

When God calls us to a time and place, we are in His time and place, not ours. Jesus never refused to speak for the Father. Because Christ is living in us, neither should we. We are the voice of Jesus to those who need to hear the words of grace, love, and salvation. May we never say, “Lord, please send someone else.” 

More from Turning Point Radio