Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekend Worship—When I Learned that Being Nice Wasn’t One of the Ten Commandments

Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. Ephesians 4:14-15

"Speak the truth in love.”

I’ve heard that admonition about as long as I’ve been in church. It’s advice that’s generally given when a situation is dicey. It’s uttered as encouragement, in an almost don’t-forget-to-buckle-your-seatbelt tone of voice. But just with a seatbelt, there’s no guarantee the outcome will be good.

I’ve also heard it bandied about after a situation blows up, usually with a sorrowful shake of a head. “If only they’d spoken the truth in love.”


Beyond that, the advice to speak the truth in love carries with it an unwritten assurance—a false assumption. Do it correctly, and everything will turn out fine. While that does occasionally happen, usually it’s after some serious fallout. And there’s never a guarantee about the outcome.

At best, truth speaking is an untidy proposition.

It involves laying bare the lies we’ve accepted as truth. No one likes being exposed, and that’s what truth does.

But when a lie is holding the position that belongs to truth, it must be done. It’s rarely pleasant. Replacing a lie with truth means that some serious restructuring needs to occur. I don’t think I’m alone when I confess that I’m not a big fan of change—even change for the better. Let me assure you that exchanging the truth for a lie is a MAJOR change. It’s about as perfect a 180° as you can get.

The bottom line is this, though. No matter how difficult, when we love, we will be called on to speak the truth. It won’t be pretty, and it certainly won’t be nice—for anyone. But that’s okay because a friend recently reminded me of this truth. Being nice isn’t one of the ten commandments.

When we follow Jesus, we find ourselves in messy situations. We’re accused of being mean, our reputations are maligned, and even our families are attacked. None of that should stop us from loving one another enough to speak the truth.

So today I’m drawing a line in the sand. I’m refusing to bow to those who want me to be nice. Instead I’m going to love—with the truth—no matter how hard it is. It’s going to get messy, but I know I’m going to get to see God at work, redeeming unredeemable situations. 

How about you . . . care to join me?

13 comments:

  1. Hi Edie -

    Thanks for this much-needed post. Too often, people interpret the word love as ignoring evil or not wanting to offend people. It's sure not the way Jesus operated. He made a lot of people angry. Many who followed Him walked away because truth was hard to swallow.

    There's a lot I could write about on the subject, but space doesn't permit. Have a blessed Sunday.

    Susan :)

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    1. Susan, thanks for sharing your thoughts, It's a difficult subject. Blessings, E

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  2. Amen, Edie. The woman who brought me to Christ is a Truth-Sayer!!! I have always known where I stood with her and that has always brought me peace--not always comfort :o/--but peace. AND I have always known she loves me as Christ loves me :o)!!! Nothing better in the world!!!

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    1. Connie, what a great testimony for those who wonder if speaking the truth in love is worth the possible heartache. Thanks for sharing! Blessings, E

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  3. Your post made me think of this truth in my own life. There are times I've spoken truth to others. There have been times it was received, and times when it was not. It also reminded me of the times truth was spoken to me, with the same results. I'm thankful for the ones who spoke the truth because, after a period of time, I received it. My experience has taught me I am responsible to love, but also to share truth. Mercy and truth work together. The results are His business.

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    1. Gail, I love this! "Mercy and truth work together." A lot of wisdom there. Thank you for sharing! Blessings E

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  4. Great post, Edie. Speaking the truth in love doesn't always bring on the warm, fuzzy feelings in your listeners, but I often think of the hard stuff the prophets told people BECAUSE they loved them. I'd always rather be known for speaking the truth than sitting on it. And praying before you speak is always the best plan!

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    1. Heather, you're so right, praying before you speak is always the best plan! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Blessings, E

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  5. I'm with you, Edie. Speaking truth in love doesn't always guarantee the response we desire but their response isn't our responsibility. What they choose to do with that truth is between them and God -- and in this, we can rest.

    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Cathy, it's hard to accept, but speaking the truth doesn't equate to them accepting it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

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  6. Edie, thank you for this post. Many churches ignore Ephesians 4:14-15 and instead act as if the 11th Commandment is "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Saying nothing that isn't "nice" may be good advice for little children, but it is not helpful when a church refuses to speak the truth and to speak it in love (need both parts). That is a big reason why congregations allow systemic pathology to drain life from the body like a parasite. Everyone ignores the elephant in the room for years because no one wants to rock the boat or make waves. If Jesus hadn't spoken the truth in the temple, those money changers would still be there today. The truth isn't always easy to hear, much less to say, but I'd rather you honor me with a difficult truth than disrespect me with an easy lie.

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    1. David, thank you for your encouragement. I really love your blog and look forward to more insights from it. http://davidbrannock.blogspot.com Blessings, E

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  7. Wow, Edie, wouldn't I love to put this article in our church newsletter! We are in turmoil right now, and no one more than those of us elders who are supposed to be guiding the church! Your post hit the nail right on the head.

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