If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter—if he does not tell it, he bears guilt. (Leviticus 5:1)
As chapter five begins, the Scripture discusses the scenarios whereby someone would be expected to bring a “trespass offering,” or in Hebrew, the אשם asham. This is amounted to a forfeiture from among their flocks or herds to account for failing to do what was right in the first place. The first scenario presented deals with having factual knowledge of something that has bearing on a legal situation. If the person has the information and chooses to keep silent, they would incur guilt, especially if their silence resulted in an injustice being done to someone.
Frankly, this strongly suggests that, as God’s people, we are obligated to speak up in a righteous manner when we have facts that could affect a situation. To be clear, this is not referring to slander or gossip but factual information that would be presented in an appropriate forum and not whispering behind closed doors. In other words, what is our responsibility if we see someone is about to be judged falsely and we have the information that could prevent that?
Scripture seems to say that our silence would make us complicit in the injustice. What is our responsibility should we see someone headed into what we know to be a dangerous situation? Are we to hold our tongue because it’s none of our business or do we speak up and try to warn them? While we ponder this question, let us consider these passages.
But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. (Ezekiel 33:6)
I don’t think it could be any clearer — we are our brother’s keeper. And while I know that there are situations where we should learn to be quiet and restrain our tongue, nevertheless, there are those situations when we must speak up for the good of others. I’ll dare say that if we do so and it draws attention to us, then it is possible that it was a situation when we should have remained silent. If it points someone to the Father and His Word, it is a good possibility that we were right to speak. As in everything, we must be guided by the Spirit of Truth but when prompted to speak, we must understand just how important it is to bear witness to the truth for the sake of those who need to hear it.
Blessings and Shalom,