Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:15-16
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
The Good Dinosaur is one of my all-time favorite movies. Arlo, a child dinosaur, is enemies with a savage cave boy who keeps breaking into his family’s silo to steal their winter food supply. After a series of disastrous events, he ends up blaming the cave boy for the death of his father. Following a fierce storm, Arlo finds himself far away from home and separated from the rest of his family. He runs into Spot, the savage cave boy, who helps him survive in the wilderness. As Arlo learns more about Spot and shares his life with him, he realizes that Spot is simply an orphan trying to survive. This new perspective changes everything about their relationship.
When we take the time to get to know people, it will transform the way we communicate with them. If we choose to spend time learning about someone and their needs, we will relate to them differently. The best and most effective conversations happen in the contexts of authentic relationships.
That last sentence may seem obvious. But I am saddened at how often Christians claim to be “speaking truth in love” while using this phrase as a weapon to ambush someone they have little to no relationship with. I also find it ironic that this phrase, “speaking the truth in love”, originally intended for believers in Ephesus in regards to how they relate to one another (believer to believer), has become one that shapes how we relate to the world (believer to unbeliever).
We are called to be wise in the way we act toward those outside the faith (Colossians 4:5-6). This doesn’t mean showing how much truth we know. It means relating to and communicating with others considerately, sincerely, and mercifully while loving peace (James 3:17). These are extremely valuable Biblical principles given to help us relate to one another.
We do not have to shy away from the truth but we are called to be sensitive to the ones to whom we are communicating. I believe we often feel pressure to share truth because we are passionate about our convictions and the freedoms we find in Christ. This is a beautiful thing! However, we are instructed to be submissive, prayerful and wise in how we share. Valuable and eternal communication happens over coffee, shared meals and most often face to face. Trouble and relational strain most often come when we are not willing to share our lives but we jump into sharing our truth.
Certainly, truth is not relative and we are asked to be brave in sharing the truth of Christ. Yet, I do not believe that it is necessary for everyone to know my opinion about every hot button issue in our culture. When I have felt what I know to be actual nudging of the Holy Spirit to speak truth, it has mostly been in the context of relationships – ones in which I have been willing to share my time, my self and my life. If we are not willing to share these things, then we must ask ourselves if speaking the truth is the wise thing to do.
- The Bible tells us that truth is best seen through the frame of a relationship and its goal is maturity, unity and love. “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11). If we care about someone and our true desire is to share the truth of Christ with them, He will provide the right time and circumstance. Ask God to show you when the time is right.
Lord, I have messed this up more times than I like to think about. I’m sorry for that. Help me to be more dependent on You, especially when I attempt to speak truth to others. Help me to be wise and considerate and most of all loving. Thank you that Your law is simply summed up by loving You and loving others. Help me to communicate better so that I may better love others. In Your name. Amen.
PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.