Truth in Love
“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” -- Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
Do you find it hard to speak truth to someone when you know it will be difficult for them to hear? And – as a result, do you completely avoid a conversation, minimize the truth, soften the blow, or simply lie and tell your friend, colleague, or loved one “it’s okay – you didn’t do anything wrong” or “don’t worry – everything’s going to be just fine?”
We’ve all been tempted to fall into the trap of dishonesty. And, if we are being honest right now – we’ve all given in to this temptation way too many times – I know I sure have. And – at times, we’ve even discounted our dishonesty by saying, “it’s just a white lie – there’s nothing wrong with that — right?”
What we don’t realize is, sugar coating the truth helps NO-ONE – especially the person we are sprinkling it on. The truth is, when we encounter a conflict or issue with another person, and we genuinely believe they bear at least partial responsibility for a problem or issue, we are called by God to speak openly and honestly with that person so they are given an opportunity to make amends, change their behavior, or get help for their issue.
“Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” -- Proverbs 12:19 (NLT)
Often we are completely unaware of our own issues. And – unless someone is honest with us and speaks truth into our lives, we are doomed to repeat the same old patterns and continue the same old behaviors.
There is a process though we must implement when we approach someone with the truth – especially if it’s a truth that might be hard for them to hear.
In Ephesians 4:15, the apostle Paul reminds us that when we speak truth, — we are to speak it in love.
So – what does that look like?
By implementing the following Six Simple Steps, we can more effectively practice truth-in-love.
- Communicate Care
- Speak the Truth
- Close with Care
Let's look at each of those.
- Before we speak truth, we must prepare in prayer. We must go before the Lord, humbly confess our understanding of the truth and ask for divine wisdom and guidance regarding our assessment of the situation.
- We must prepare for the conversation. Consider the appropriate place and time to speak the truth. And, if necessary, rehearse so that you are completely prepared to speak the truth in love and respond to any reactions with patience and understanding.
- Begin every difficult conversation by establishing your care for the other person. This may be as simple as saying, “I care about you,” “I care about your feelings,” “I have great respect for you,” or “I love you.” Don’t allow the emotions you are experiencing to cloud your care for the other person. Every conversation goes better when we begin with care.
- Speak the truth, the whole truth – and nothing but the truth.
- Refrain from responding to any defensive remarks or counter criticism. Sometimes truth is difficult to hear and needs time to sink in. So let it go and allow the other person time to reflect back on what you’ve said. Instead of falling into the trap of reacting – close your conversation by re-establishing your care and respect for the other person.
- Continue to pray for the person and for the situation, asking God to open their eyes to the truth and heal the problem.
Above all – avoid the temptation to do nothing, to minimize or downplay the truth. And remember: “The truth will set you free!” John 8:32
Are you ready and willing to consistently speak truth-in-love?
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