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Truth with Love

Ephesians 4:15

English Standard Version

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

“Speaking the truth in love,” I’ve been in the church almost my entire life, and have heard this quote often. Most frequently used as a defense when someone had said something cutting to another person, and they had hurt their feelings. “Hey, I’m just speaking the truth in love!” However, this misuse takes this verse wildly out of context. The Apostle Paul wrote this as a directive to help the church in Ephesus build one another up, not tear each other down. Indeed, the scriptures have much to say about how we speak to one another.

Colossians 4:5-7

English Standard Version

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

This refers to how we speak to those outside of the church. Instructing us to be gracious, and have speech that is palatable - not offensive.

The truth that you want to share with someone needs to be “seasoned” with grace and love, and delivered in a manner that is designed to build.

The other night I took my girls aged ten and nine respectively trick-or-treating. They hadn’t been in over five years, and that was my fault. I’m a pastor and have numerous outreaches. The biggest of the year is always our Trunk ‘r Treat, our church goes all out with decorating cars, and homemade soup made in a kettle over an open fire, apple’s a big deal. We’re all tired and smiling afterward. Normally, I tell the girls that they’ve had plenty of candy, so we don't need to go out again. This year was different, we piled in my truck, drove into town from our farm, and the girls had a blast.

When we came home, of course, we examined the loot. That’s when I saw it and remembered an interaction. There was a gentleman standing in an unlit portion of the sidewalk handing booklets out to everyone. I had no idea what he was giving out. I have no doubt that his intentions were pure, however, his execution was lacking a bit. The booklet was one of those old-school gospel tracts with disturbing images and confrontational language - designed to frighten someone into a relationship with Jesus. The tract has the kernel of truth in it, but it’s lacking love, the same with the approach of just jamming it in my hand.

We, as Christians, should share our faith, constantly. We simply shouldn’t be doing it with books designed to scare us handed out on a creepy portion of the sidewalk with no explanation whatsoever attached. The approach does not resemble anything that Jesus did. It isn’t loving.

When we speak to the world when we offer the truth that we as believers in Jesus have, we must do so in a way that looks like Jesus, and shows His love and grace. When we speak to each other - fellow believers - offering correction, it must be out of a place of love.

Please consider this the next time you’re about to criticize someone. Please remember this before we share something on social media. If it is indeed the truth from Jesus Christ, then it will sound like Him, and look like Him. If it doesn’t, then it is not from Him.

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