Christian Life

Speaking the Truth in Love

June 30, 2014

I find that one of the toughest things in my life is to find balance. Whether its spending time at work versus spending time with my family, investing time in ministry versus investing time in school, achieving balance is very difficult. Now for some of you, this may not be a problem. But I tend to be an all or nothing type of person, and I like to focus on one thing at a time. But God desires believers to have balanced lives, emphasizing the priority on him.

And one of the things that God wants believers to be well balanced on is loving others while proclaiming the truth to them.

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:
Ephesians 4:14-15

This is the key passage containing the believer’s commandment “speaking the truth in love”. It is couched in an extended passage on the inter workings of the church, but definitely applies to communications with believers and non-believers alike.

Let’s take a look at the two concepts (truth and love) separately, then we’ll bring them back together to conclude.

What is Love?

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

In this passage, God is grouping and comparing humanity. He starts off by telling us where we were: lost, without strength (this literally means weak, or sick, without strength when you examine the Greek word behind it), and that Christ died for the ungodly.

But then God goes on to compare how someone might die for another. Here he begins with a righteous man. This is an equitable man, an innocent, just or holy man. He says that there aren’t many people that would die for such a man.

Think about it, if you knew of a man that was upright and just, but never really did anything for you personally, would you want to die for him?

Then God tells us that there are some people that would die for a good man. This is a man that is probably not only righteous, but also helps people, or provides some benefit to others. The Greek word for “good” here is often used as a noun, e.g. like the goods of a rich man, or something like that. Anyways, it implies that the man is beneficial is some way.

Now think about a man who was upright and just, but also personally did something to help you out. Perhaps something big, like save you from falling off a bridge, or gave you food when you were starving, etc. Would you consider dying for him? The chances are certainly higher than that of a man that was just someone who was moral and just.

So God talks about the ungodly, the righteous man, and the good man. Then he makes these remarks:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Romans 5:8-10

Let look at another passage.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Colossians 1:21-22

So God says that all humans are sinners, that we were aliens and enemies of him, and yet, he reached out to us in love to give us his son to die for our sins.

Love is a Decision

Love isn’t an emotion, a good feeling, an attraction to the opposite sex, or a compulsion (like a hobby that gets out of hand, playing too many games or watching too many movies), or an obsession (like wanting to have a lofty title/position, e.g. wanting to be the president, king, or a rich man, etc.).

It is a decision.

The world has a twisted sense of what love is. And if I went by the world’s definition of love, I would “love” my wife in the morning, and “hate” her in the afternoon. It would be a constant roller coaster, which would end in divorce, which is the case of many people in the Western Hemisphere today.

God Chose Israel, and Decided to Love Them

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:
But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 7:6-8

Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 9:4-5

So here we see God choosing Israel, not because they were a great people, or righteous, or deserved his favor at all, in fact they were quite the opposite, but God chose them, and loved them.

Love in Action

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
I Corinthians 13:1-6

The Bible uses the word “charity” here with regard to love, and I’m grateful for it. It further dispels the misconception that love is an emotion, or is simple doing good works. Verse 3 says that you can give everything you own to the poor, and even give your life away, and still not have charity.

Luckily, it goes on to tells us some things about charity. Charity is Suffering long, kindness, not having envy, not having pride, acting right, seeking and helping others, not easily angered, not thinking evil, and not rejoicing in wrong doing, but in the truth.

You see love and truth are linked.

So now let’s talk about truth.

What is Truth?

Truth is the Word of God

Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
Psalm 119:160

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 17:17

Truth is Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-2, 14

Truth is the Gospel

To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Galatians 2:5

But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,
Galatians 2:14a

What Should Believers do with Truth?

Come to It

Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:4

Be Established by It

Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
II Peter 1:12

Walk in It

For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
III John 1:3-4

Speak It (to the Lost)

But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Acts 26:25-28

Speak It (to the Saved)

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Ephesians 4:25

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Ephesians 4:15

You see, love and truth are connected. And believers must have a balance.

Christians must speak the truth in love.

They can easily get out of balance, become prideful or puffed up, and slam someone with the truth. Likewise they can easily allow people to walk all over them, or to commit sin and iniquity, and not tell them the truth because they fear they might “hurt” them.

So believers must maintain that balance. They must be compelled or driven by love, and at the same time, tempered, off-set, and balanced by truth.

This is the example that Christ showed. He came to earth and died the death of the cross because he was compelled by love, his love for his father. But he was perfectly balanced in truth, and often times, we see Jesus dealing very roughly with the elite of the Jews, because they denied the truth, and lead men away from God instead of to God.

The bottom line is, don’t act simply based on an emotion, and likewise don’t refrain because you are afraid of hurting another. But act because God directs you, and use the truth of God to reach out to others in love, and God will bless it.

Please leave a comment below. We would love to hear what you think!

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