Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
– Ephesians 4:15
Most of the time when we think we are “speaking the truth in love,” we really aren’t.
We use the rationalization that a person needs to hear this hard, painful truth and it would be unloving to not tell them. Or, out of love for someone else, we have a duty to share a truth with this person. Maybe it is a “they need to understand what they are doing is wrong, and it’s my obligation to make sure they do.” And, sometimes it means “I love them, and I am sharing truth with them, so that’s speaking the truth in love.”
It is hard to share truth, especially when the truth that we are supposed to be speaking in love may not be welcomed or wanted.
If we are honest, we often mess it up.
In this verse, truth can’t be separated from love. It’s like a strawberry (truth) dipped in (love) chocolate. They belong together.
How do we speak love?
Truth needs to be bathed in love, soaked and surrounded by it. And, according to God’s revelation:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Is the truth we are speaking full of patience and kindness? Or is it just about us and what we want, without genuine consideration of others, because that’s not love. Is it rude or based on my reaction or resentment? Does the truth offer hope and a commitment to be there and bear each other up? Is the truth an ultimatum or does it communicate love that endures all things, through Christ who gives us strength?
Is love spoken as strongly as the truth? Not just in word but in action?
How do we speak truth?
Just as much as we struggle to love, we mix up truth.
We assume truth. We make our perception truth. We accept other’s opinions as truth.
So, when we go to speak the truth in love, is it really truth? Instead of going to a person to understand, empathize and share God’s message, we go to convict, criticize and lecture from our point of view.
Pilate had the same issue. He was faced with deciding the truth and speaking out accordingly.
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.
– John 18:37, 38
Truth comes from God. When we share the truth, we are sharing the heart and purpose of Jesus. Truth in love is wrapped up in Jesus.
So, when we speak the truth in love, are we sharing Jesus with another? Or, are we doing it to wash our hands of a situation?
Jesus deeply desires us to speak the truth in love. When we do, Ephesians 4:15 says we grow up in Him.
So, let’s grow up. Let’s listen to and obey the Holy Spirit. Let’s filter our tongues through 1 Corinthians 13.
Let’s share Jesus as we speak His truth in the redemption of His love.
(Note: This post is for me. I have too often failed to speak truth in love. Words are so important to me, and God has brought my attention to how and what I speak to those He’s entrusted to me. This is my lesson from Him today. I’m sure I will have many future opportunities to speak truth in love God’s way, probably right after this posts!)