Again we turn our attention to wise Solomon’s statements as found in Ecclesiastes 3.
A Time To Tear, And A Time To Sew
The word “tear” primarily appears in Scripture when one has torn their clothing, through grief, distress, anger, etc.. Though it is not a custom of our culture, we can understand through the abrupt nature of this action the great turmoil and distress which is involved. It is a strong expression of sorrow or of displeasure.
Jacob, mourning the apparent death of his son Joseph tore his clothes in grief (Genesis 37:34). When the people of Israel chose to follow the bad advice of the other spies sent to Canaan, and in the process turned from the LORD, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothing (Numbers 14:6). Recall, when Jonah went to Nineveh, we read that all the residents of that place, from the king to the least of them, put on sackcloth (which often accompanies or parallels the tearing of one’s clothing) and sat in ashes, repenting of their wickedness (Jonah 3:4-6).
In the days of Solomon, Ahijah tore his garment into twelve pieces, and by it foretold the division which the Lord would cause in Israel (1 Kings 11:30-31). The torn garment represented the torn nation.
Not only is there a time to tear, but also a time to sew, a time to mend that which has been torn. As a young child, I can recall my grandmother patching holes in the knees of my pants and mending seams which may have torn out on various garments. The torn garment is of little use, but those which have effectively been mended are again ready for wear.
But it is not only garments and nations which tear apart, but also relationships. Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (59:1-2). Every responsible human has torn asunder his relationship with the God of heaven. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
God be thanked, He has not left us to be torn from His presence eternally. There are countless texts wherein the Bible writers tell us that God has bridged the gap which our sin created through Jesus Christ. Paul told the Ephesians, “…even when we were dead in trespasses, (He) made us alive together with Christ…” (2:5). The Lord mended a torn relationship of which we were powerless to restore.
But even further to that, Paul reveals in the Ephesians letter how Jesus would “sew” together the Jews and Gentiles in one body—His church. He reminds the Gentiles, “…you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you were once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (2:12-13). By breaking down “the middle wall of separation” (2:14-15), Jesus “reconcile(d) them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (2:16). No other place is able to create peace between God and man, and man and man; only in the Lord’s body—the church (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 3:11).
A Time To Keep Silence, And A Time To Speak
Solomon wrote, “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:28), and again, “…a fool’s voice is known by his many words” (Ecclesiastes 5:3). The wise writer focuses a great deal on the wisdom of restrained use of the tongue (Ecclesiastes 10:12-14; Proverbs 10:19; 15:2; etc.).
The New Testament writers also focus on the tongue and it’s use. James identifies the tongue as “…a fire, a world of iniquity…” (James 3:6). Paul commanded that the sins of the tongue be put away, “…blasphemy, filthy language … do not lie…” (Colossians 3:8-9). Sometimes, the best solution is for us to simply remain silent. Grandma always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, then say nothing at all.”
As much as there is a time to keep silence, there is also a time to speak. We are to have our “…speech always with grace, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:6). Though no corrupt speech is to come forth, we are to speak “…what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
Never should the child of God remain silent, so as to allow wickedness to reign. It has been said that if good people do nothing, then evil will prevail. Likewise, when the good say nothing, sin will rule. Mordecai encouraged Esther to speak up on behalf of the Jews, saying, “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
Sometimes silence is the easier course, but not the right course. At other times, silence is the best response, and yet it is difficult to do. We must approach the situations which come before us in life with wisdom.
We have torn ourselves away from the Lord, He has stitched us back, through the sacrifice of His Son. Let us