Perhaps you’ve seen is the poetic form of a confessional by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). There are different versions, but this is the most common one:
First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Those words of reflection are about the fear of German intellectuals and many pastors following the Nazis’ rise to power. It was a personal indictment on Niemöller himself. The fear of speaking up, when the consequences are severe repeats itself through history and often unfortunately through church history. However, I’ve found that woven within the pages of the Scriptures a strong directive to speak up, speak out, stand up, and stand out when necessary. Proverbs 31:8-9 is clear. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.
What’s happening in your world right now that needs you to speak up and stand out? Don’t wait until it’s too late.