Question: Ought Christians to testify to all whom they meet?
E W Rogers, Oxford
Answer. The believer's responsibility to spread the gospel must not be so construed as to set aside all salutary advice contained in the Old Testament. The wise man informs us that there is a time to be silent and a time to speak. A word fitly spoken, he says, is like an apple of gold in pictures of silver. Times are when the “prudent keep silent.” The fool is sometimes to be answered; sometimes not.
It is plain, therefore, that a wise person will not make it a rule to speak to everyone with whom he comes in contact. He will not cast his pearls before swine; nor will he give that which is holy to dogs. He will be discriminative without partiality; he will not lose an opportunity though he will never force a door.
Paul's remark to Timothy is an injunction to “keep at” preaching the word at all times, whether such times are favourable or unfavourable. An examination of the reigns through which such prophets as Isaiah and Jeremiah testified will reveal that they kept at it in season, out of season. Whether Christianity was nationally tolerated or persecuted Timothy was enjoined to keep at his work.
Paul's injunction to Timothy does not conflict with the principles mentioned earlier in this answer. Those principles have to do with the contact of individual with individual. Paul's injunction has to do with the public preaching of the word. They represent two complementary spheres in which the servant of God is found.