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?