Speaking the Truth in Love

A guy came rushing off the rugby field, blood pouring out of his obviously broken nose bent at a 45 degree angle.  He looked at my friend and asked, “How do I look?”  I will never forget her answer:  “Should I tell you a lie to make you feel better about yourself, or should I tell you the truth?”

Too often, especially when we know that the truth might hurt, we just ignore reality and try to “sugar-coat” the truth.  In an attempt to avoid offending others, we choose to lie or keep quiet.  When we do not know how to speak the truth in love, we choose to silence it by our reactions;  and if we fail to speak the truth, we lack the practice necessary to gain skill in speaking the truth in love.

Our reaction to hearing the truth is often one of self-defence rather than acceptance of our imperfections.  Instead, we choose to reject the truth which can change us for the good, and choose to receive a lie, deceiving ourselves, because we want to “feel good” about the way we are, missing out on the power of truth to change us for the better.  So, since we’re not going through the process of receiving the truth in love, we’re not getting any better at that either.

I know I’m guilty of both – not wanting to offend, and quick to feel offended. Sometimes we go through life in the same way we read through books and our Bibles. Our favorite authors, quotes, scriptures, and people are often those who make us feel better about ourselves and our life styles – no matter what the truth is.

However, in my search for the truth, I’ve stumbled upon some things I did not like, mostly because they made me feel uncomfortable, requiring a willingness to change or obey.  I had to admit that many of my beliefs were based on culture, religious tradition, and even my own ideas and experiences without regard for the Word of God or the example of Christ.

I contemplate this question as I observe the people of this Buddhist nation: ” If I had been born in Thailand, would I have become a Buddhist like other Thais?”  Or, was my birth in a Christian home or a Christian nation my “ticket to heaven”?  I think not.  It is the truth and the truth alone that will set us free and save us.  Yet many will not receive the truth unto salvation and will be surprised when they stand before the Judgment Seat of God and find that their religious traditions and customs or national identity could not save them or hide them from the truth.

However, by grace alone I am saved and not by my skin color or nationality or religious teachings.  I thank God that I had the advantage of being born in a Christian home where I was exposed to the Bible and had the opportunity to discover the ultimate Truth.

I am grateful for a personal experience of true repentance, for being baptized by choice as a step of obedience, for receiving the Holy Spirit., and  for hearing the call and taking the opportunity to”go to the nations”.  It is a joy to walk with Jesus daily on this journey of faith because I know that He is the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and the TRUTH is my salvation and the only way to be transformed into His marvelous image.

I fully realize that I have by no means “arrived.”  Most of the time, I can’t see any further than the light at my own feet guiding my next step.  I am merely a sheep following the Voice of my Shepherd in faith. I am on a journey of transformation into what He wants me to be.

And yet I desire to share some of the light I have received with those still walking in darkness by speaking the truth in love. The only problem is, I’m not always sure “how” to effectively speak the truth in love.  I know that the truth can only be received if it’s desired.

Perhaps I’m not getting the right answers because I’m asking the wrong questions. Or, maybe I stubbornly choose to hold on to what I believe instead of asking questions at all. This is often rooted in pride, and pride is the reflection in the mirror of deception.

“How do we look?” Are we willing to look into the mirror or to hear the truth about our brokenness? We may look into the mirror and lie to ourselves, but we can’t fool God.

Sometimes a broken nose needs further breaking in order to be set straight. It might hurt, but the result will be well worth it. If we speak the truth in love, some people will be offended while others may choose to receive. And those who receive will be set free by the same life and love that set me free.

Ephesians 4:13-25 KJV

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”

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