…speaking the truth in love, [that we] may grow up in all things into Him…. (Eph. 4:15)
I was recently involved in a lively online discussion regarding agent/client relationships. A few of the responses were all over the map, but most centered on some very basic relational rules, which can be summed up this way: Be honest and aboveboard, gracious in word and deed.
Isn’t that the basis of a successful Christian life? Certainly we must first be born again, or we quite obviously can’t live the Christian life because we aren’t Christians. However, being born into God’s family is the starting point. After that we, like babies born into a natural family, must grow up.
Ephesians 4:15 gives us a clear directive on how to grow up spiritually—by “speaking the truth in love.” We human beings have a tendency to swing from one side of a pendulum to the other. If our current focus is on speaking the truth, we are likely to do some serious damage with our tongue, using the excuse that “honesty is the best policy” and we were just “telling it like it is.” And yes, honesty really is the best policy, since deception accomplishes nothing positive in anyone’s life. However, Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to temper our speaking of truth with love; if we don’t, we only compound the problem. At the same time, if we are on the other side of the pendulum, focusing on love and omitting truth, we do no one any favors, as we are simply encouraging and condoning sinful and destructive lifestyles under the guise that we don’t want to offend anyone.
So how do we effectively speak the truth in love so that we can become the “grown up” ministers of reconciliation that God has called us to be? After all, love is certainly more than an emotion, isn’t it? It’s far more than having warm, fuzzy feelings for others or doing nice things for them. It is also more than not doing or saying things to them that might be offensive or hurtful. Sometimes speaking the truth in love involves words that offend and hurt because loving someone means doing what’s best for them. It’s the boundaries that make the difference—learning to “color inside the lines” of God’s Truth that defines whether or not our words are truly spoken in love.
God is Love, so therefore every word He speaks is spoken in love. But if you regularly read and study the Bible, you know that not every word or phrase or passage evokes warm, fuzzy, feel-good emotions. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so that we could be reunited with Him and spend eternity in heaven. However, He also loves us so much that He speaks the truth to us and warns that if we don’t repent of our sins—meaning that we no longer continue to pursue our own way but instead, like the prodigal son, turn around and walk back toward the Father, accepting His Son as the only provision for forgiveness and restoration—we cannot have a relationship with God but will, instead, spend eternity separated from Him.
Ultimately, the words of truth that we speak must be wrapped in the kind of love that says, “I care about your relationship with God and your eternal destiny, as well as your relationships here on earth. As a result, my words are spoken to help you understand what God says is the only way to have those relationships restored—first with God and then with others.”
When that purpose becomes our focus and motivation for all we say and do, we will truly be speaking the truth in love and “growing up” as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father.
Copyright 2008 Kathi Macias, all rights reserved. Used by permission.
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored seventeen books. Her newest book “Beyond Me. Living a You-first Life in a Me-first World” (New Hope Publishers) The author can be reached at: http://www.kathimacias.com