In the summer of 2016, a two-year-old was snatched by an alligator as he waded into a lagoon at an amusement park resort. His father tried desperately, without success, to rescue the boy from the alligator. A frantic search for the child ensued, but tragically, a few days later, divers recovered the toddler’s lifeless body.

When news of what happened became public, some immediately took to social media to express sorrow and to offer condolences to the grieving family. But others accused the parents of irresponsibility and expressed cruel sentiments such as, “I would never let that happen to my child.” I was taken aback by the mean-spiritedness of some of those who commented on social media. They wasted no time in finding fault and in heaping scorn upon parents who were in the midst of grief and agony over the loss of their little one.

Since I’m on the care staff at my church, I’m often at the bedside of those who are sick or dying. I also visit those who have experienced other kinds of personal and familial crises. Even if the person or one of the family members I’m visiting is clearly at fault for a tragedy that occurred, I’ve learned that there’s a “time to be quiet and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). It goes hand in hand with James 1:19 where we’re told to be “quick to listen, slow to speak.”

I’m continually reminded that our attitudes and behaviors are to reflect those of Jesus—the One who does not “crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle” (Matthew 12:20). There’s a right time and a wrong time to dole out advice. In the meantime, may God give us the wisdom to “be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 2 Samuel 13:1-19