When Good Men Do Nothing

Many are the quotations of what can happen when “good men do nothing”.

  • “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” (JFK during a speech in 1961)
  • “Tyranny prevails when good men do nothing.” (Thomas Jefferson)
  • “If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited.” (King Solomon)
  • “For evil to flourish, it requires good men to do nothing.” (Simon Wiesenthal)
  • “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Attributed to Edmund Burke, but contested by many)

What does that or might that look like? When good men do nothing?

What wars can we attribute to men doing nothing to stand up to injustices? What coups in govenrments across this globe could have been thwarted had good men stood up? How many lives have been lost needlessly because no one took a stand for decency? What kind word, never spoken or benevelent action never taken could have changed the heart of a man before he became bent on evil? How many remain shackled in bondage due to the blind eye of many?

In the personal arena, if I say nothing, when I sense maybe I should say something, who am I harming and for how much longer? If I feel strongly about a community issue and take no action, is the community even bothered? Again who am I harming? If I see or experience injustice and do/say nothing about it, does it even matter?

It would be easy to assume, if I take no action, the results are nil to minimal. But that would be wrong. Here’s why.

In the face of injustice, if I take no action, someone is always harmed, whether it be indirectly or directly, be it over the long term or short term. Someone will be harmed, and usually more than just one.

Ourself and our relationships are harmed. When we violate the right and wrong we feel inside of us, our character begins to crumble away. Little by little our own morals become weakened and our character becomes a cracked facade. When that happens our relationships follow suit.

Someone is always looking at the example we are setting. Not that you’re a massive influencer of millions, but there is within your circle, one (or many) who look to you as an example.

You are only one voice, it is true, but don’t fall trap to the lie that your voice doesn’t matter. It most certainly does matter. It matters to your own sense of self, to your character, it matters to each of your relationships and it matters to those watching you. And let’s not forget, it also matters to the one(s) that you are speaking out for, or standing up for.

When good men do nothing, they become nothing. Overbaked, couch potatos, empty skins, with little purpose.

Is evil triumphing? Is tyranny prevailing? Is evil flourishing? Is it because our strength is limited, as Solomon said?

There is an account of a nation being overrun by an enemy nation, and the oppressed were having to hide their grain from the oppressors, because it was being stolen. While beating out the wheat, while hidden in a winepress, (not a very spacious place for such a process), a young man from a small, humble clan, and the youngest and weakest in his family, was visited by an angel of the Lord, who said to him,

O mighty man of valor.”

Judges 6:12 ESV

Gideon, looked around to see who the angel was talking to, only to discover, it was to him. What followed was Gideon telling the angel that he was no mighty man of valor, and the angel telling him that he indeed was. In fact, Gideon was told,

Go in this might of yours and save Israel.”

Judges 6:14 ESV

This fearful, confident lacking, hidden harvester, was called forth from the winepress and pressed into his rightful leadership position in his family, clan, region, and nation.

Gideon, after asking the Lord for at least three signs to prove that it was God really speaking to him and calling him to deliver Israel, then did these things:

  • He gathered 10 men to join him
  • He tore down his father’s idol altar
  • He tore down the Asherah pole of his father
  • He built an altar to the Lord & offered his father’s bulls on it
  • He gathered 32,000 of his clansmen to join him
  • 22,000 were released because they were afraid
  • The remaining 10,000 were tested by how they drank water
  • 300 remained
  • Each of the 300 were given a pitcher with a torch in it and a trumpet
  • When the signal was given, they broke the pitchers and sounded the trumpets
  • And every man stood their ground, holding a burning torch, having sounded an alarm
  • The enemy was routed and they turned on themselved out of confusion
  • The 2 enemy kings were captured and decapitated
  • Israel was indeed delivered by one mighty man of valor – Gideon. Who took action.

Folks, there’s much truth hidden here for our day, and for you and me. But I will focus on just this.

“It is time to break the pitchers.” It is time to sound the alarm.

The good (righteous) men and women that I am speaking to here, and rubbing shoulders with everyday, must break their pitchers and let the light out. They must sound the alarm of truth, justice, right, and wrong. The cost to you, your family, your community, and our nation is too great to do nothing.

You may not see yourself as a voice that can make a difference. Gideon surely didn’t. But what started in a single man, Gideon, extended to 10 more, then to hundreds, then to thousands and finally an entire nation. With assurances from the Lord, Gideon took action but what followed was 300 more men who stood their ground too, with blazing torches.

The light of truth must shine forth brightly in these dark times. It shines from us, from our words, lives and actions.The alarm must be sounded to the eminent danger that lies ahead. I pray it not be said of us that our strength was limited, and we opted to sit out when called upon to stand and let our light shine. I pray our inaction, our “do nothing” attitude of fear or apathy not be the cause for evil and tyranny in our great nation.

Good men doing good, may wind up hated or persecuted, but the reward is far greater than good men doing nothing.

Let’s stand our ground and shine our light.



Evil Triumphs When Good Men Do Nothing, Alex Lickerman M.D., Psychology Today, Sept. 2009

One thought on “When Good Men Do Nothing

  1. Andrew

    Inspiring word and perfectly timed encouragement for America and every Christian throughout the world. The hearts of men fail and fall into a deafening silence as we become more and more complacent. Everything seems to be spiraling out of control. Rumors of war are becoming louder and louder as nations throughout the world prepare and increase their “saber rattling”, The world’s food supply has been compromised. Power grids targeted. America aggressively under invasion by foreign nationals. Children, the most vulnerable among us, are being militated and slaughtered as an expression of “freedom” to an individual’s “right”. God help us …….!

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