November 8, 2012

The importance of speaking truth in love

The older I get, the less I feel like talking. I’ve never been much for small talk. Besides, that the tongue is “an unruly evil” and can cause much trouble. I also know the challenges of phrasing truth in an understandable way, never mind the importance of having the right motive for speaking in the first place.

God says to “speak the truth in love.” Those five words are even more difficult than “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” Truth spoken is easier than truth spoken in love, and the mushy kind of love is far easier than the love God wants. Sometimes saying nothing at all is much less complicated.

The passage that tells me to speak the truth in love is set in the context of becoming spiritually mature. It says God gives leaders to equip His people and bring us to the “fullness of Christ”…

… so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:14–16)

I’m a bit surprised by this context. Speaking the truth in love is integral to growing up. It is also important toward unity in the Body of Christ and having each one do their part to the best of their God-given ability. As I ponder that in view of my tendency to be quiet, I realize speaking so the church can grow is the love part. Of course, what I say has to be correct, lining up with the revelation given in Scripture, but the reason for saying it is so others can become more like Jesus. 

Alongside these godly motivations for speaking stands a nasty reason why I don’t. Too often I’m more worried about what they will think of me than I care about their eternal well-being. That is not love but pure selfishness.

Lord, again Your Word nails my sinful attitudes. While I care about the spiritual life of others, I too often focus on myself and stay quiet rather than risk rejection. You are not like that. Instead, You spoke as the Father gave You words, and were despised and rejected because of speaking the truth. Then, instead of retaliating or hiding in silence, You submitted to the cross, not because You are helpless but because You love us.

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