“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.” — Winston Churchill
Aneurin Bevan, also known as Nye Bevan, was a Welsh Labor Party politician who acted as minister of health in Great Britain’s post-war government between 1945 and 1951.
During his time as a politician, he became known as a harsh critic of those whom, he believed, “opposed the working man.” Among others, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a primary target of his verbal attacks. The ideological differences between the two gentlemen created animosity that became widely known in the political arena, as well as to the public in general.
Late former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker told the story of the day Winston Churchill, sitting in the House of Commons, received the message that his enemy, Nye Bevan, had just died. After receiving the news, Churchill bowed his head: “A great man, a brilliant man, a tragic loss,” he muttered under his breath.
Some minutes later, a member of parliament came to Churchill to inform him that the press was waiting to get his “heartfelt opinion on Nye Bevan.”
Churchill thought for a moment, then looked up, circumspectly, and said, “Are you sure he’s dead?”
The Prime Minister, known for his severe demeanor and strong opinions, dreaded to be forced to act as a politician, instead of speaking his heart.
This story about Churchill somewhat reminded me of something that I personally struggle with.
I too find myself in a quandary when someone I love continually makes the wrong decisions. And the struggle becomes even harder, when the person in question does not take criticism in a positive way.
In such circumstances, we must decide: Do we ignore their bad choices, and even nod our heads in approval, or do we fearlessly speak up, confronting them with the truth?Is love ignoring someone's bad choices, or does it mean we speak up,confronting them with the truth? Click To Tweet
It seems to be a no-brainer, doesn’t it? If we see someone we love heading for trouble, we warn them. That’s the right and loving thing to do.
But we all know this is easier said than done, mostly because defensive people usually justify their wrongdoing, sometimes even quoting the Bible and saying that “God told them” to do so and so.I’m always amazed at the things God gets blamed for. Click To Tweet
Why even bother, right? Why should we tell the truth, no matter what?
I found my answer this morning, while reading a bible passage in the book of Second Kings.
Israel had been divided into the Northern and the Southern kingdom, and the two kings decided to join forces and fight against one of their enemies together.
As it had become the custom, they summoned 400 so-called prophets to inquire about their decision. All 400 false prophets encouraged the kings to gather their armies and take over the enemy’s territory. But then, Micaiah, a true prophet, boldly dared to deliver a completely different message: If they went into battle, they would certainly die.
Even though he knew the kings would not heed his counsel, he risked his life by going against the kings’ wishes, and chose to honor God’s word.
He chose to tell the truth, at all cost.
Telling the truth is not always a matter of life and death, as it was for the prophet. And sometimes — I get it — holding our tongue can be a wise, political move, as it was for Mr. Churchill in the death of his political adversary.
But when it comes to my family and friends, I am asking God to help me to be bold, and love them enough to confront them, rather than condoning their wrongful actions. I don’t ever want someone I love to one day look me in the eye, and say: Why did you not say something?
This article was published on Patricia’s weekend column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) on Saturday March 18, 2017.