For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven … A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. –Ecclesiastes 3:7
In Job 1:20 we read these words, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.” On this day of calamity, Job mourned. Raw with emotion, caused by loss and helplessness, he was in anguish as he grieved the death of his family, home, and livelihood. In biblical times the rending or tearing of a garment symbolized a season of grief, sorrow, or mourning over sin.
But then Scripture says that after Job tore, he worshipped. In his grief he tore, but in trust and belief in God and His sovereignty, he praised, and thanked. As he worshiped and drew near to the presence of God, the Almighty began to mend and sew the frail and tender pieces of Job’s broken heart together again. There was a time to tear, but then there was a time to sew.
In Matthew 27:51 we read about another tearing.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
When Jesus breathed His last breath on the Cross, the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, where the presence of God dwelt, was rent in two. This veil in the temple was incredible—sown with golden thread, thick and sturdy. As Jesus’ body was torn, God tore the veil, mourning the suffering and death of His Son.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh … –Hebrews 10:19-20
Jesus’ body was the veil and when it tore, nothing separated believers from God’s presence. Do you see? There had been a time to sew that veil and prevent access to God the Father. But in the fullness of time, God sent His Son to tear the veil away, giving access for all to come to Him in worship.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. –John 1:14
In God’s perfect timing, Jesus came forth to tear away sin and brokenness and sew grace, hope, and truth into our lives. But this season was not only for tearing and sewing; this season was for speaking and silence, as well. During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke to crowds, telling them who He was and what He came to do. He spoke and He healed. He spoke and He confronted sin and Satan. He spoke and the storm calmed. He spoke and the loaves multiplied. For 32 years Jesus spoke.
And then it was time to be silent.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. –Isaiah 53:7
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. –1 Peter 2:23
This kind of confident silence could only come from the security of knowing the Father. This silence was not a sign of weakness in Jesus, but rather a sign of strength.
Our words. They can tear apart or hold together. Weapons of grace or weapons of destruction, words have power. That’s why it’s so important for us to know when we are in a season of quiet, and when the time is right to open our mouths and speak. Both are good and right in their proper order. I think we believe that keeping quiet shows a lack of courage or care. Perhaps we think that staying silent is doing nothing, when in fact remaining silent is often the most prudent and powerful thing we can do.
When the time comes to speak, however, we must choose our words wisely and with great care because our words—they can tear or sew—rip apart or hold together.
During this time of year, many find themselves in a state of tearing. Tearing from grief because of the loss of a loved one. Tearing from the pain and anguish of sickness and suffering. Others of you are sewing. You’re busy mending a broken relationship. You’re busy sewing joy and peace into the hearts and lives of those you love. Still some are in a time of silence. Very much wanting to share your thoughts and feelings, defend yourself, or give an opinion. However, silence is often golden. Speaking can be devastating if one fails to speak the truth in love. We must remember that in a season of speaking, our words have the power to mend or tear apart.
During the Christmas season, I challenge you to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Guard your words. Choose them wisely. Where forgiveness needs to be extended or received, ask God to sew grace in your heart and allow you to speak in love.
To everything there is a season …
Whatever season you find yourself in this Christmas, I pray you do as Job did—fall to your knees and worship the Living Word—Jesus. He supplies the grace. He will guard and guide your tearing and your sewing, your silence and your speaking. On your knees in prayer, you will receive the power needed to journey through every season you face with gratitude and grace.