How to Speak the Truth in Love
Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? Perhaps you’re the type who stays quiet as long as you can, but when the lid blows off the pressure cooker, you spew everything that’s been on your mind.
Ephesians 4:15 pleads with us: “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.“
I have found that there are two extremes that people take in communication. Some have no issue in telling you like it is and others are sweet and sappy all in the name of love.
So, what does it mean to speak the truth in love?
I think we can all agree that Christ is the epitome of love. No, He IS love. So when we have to speak the truth, we need to do so in a Christ-like manner.
But what does that look like? I propose that instead of choosing between two equally unbiblical responses, we choose to an appropriate response to what’s been done, just as Jesus did.
To do this, let’s look at 3 intense, real-life emotions that Jesus expressed, to see how He did it without sinning.
When someone tells me that sarcasm strikes a tone that isn’t Christ-like, I have to be honest. I wonder what bible they’re reading.
There are several cases where Jesus expressed his disgust with cutting sarcasm. The difference is, he was judicious with to whom he did it.
Jesus wasn’t sarcastic to everyone. And his sarcasm was never mean-spirited or mocking. Rather it was an intentional strategy.
You think you’re the only one who gets frustrated?
I can’t imagine the impatience that Jesus had to resist when he walked this earth. And he wasn’t always meek and mild in his responses.
In Matthew 17, when a man brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus, claiming Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus’ harsh words were evidence of his growing frustration with people who had seen all the signs and should’ve known better than to doubt who He was:
And he said this: “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment” (verses 14-20).
Frustration often gets the better of us when things don’t go the way we expected–when traffic holds us up or when your spouse seems intentionally ignorant.
We can be like Jesus and not let frustration get the better of us while at the same time not enabling poor behavior.
Think all anger is bad?
Instead of being angry with sinners and how they lived, Jesus was indignant toward the so-called “religious” who touted a spotless image on the outside, but cultivated critical, hardened hearts on the inside. Jesus used harsh words toward the religious elite of his day saying things like, “You snakes! You brood of vipers!”(Matthew 23:33) Wow! Who knew that name calling was Christ like?
Jesus wasn’t completely opposed to violence, either. How about the time when He was furious with the money changers in the temple? ( John 2:13-17)
The bible doesn’t say that God isn’t angry, it says that he is slow to anger.
Not all anger is bad. The reason for your anger can be a prompting to change something that desperately needs changing.
You would do well to evaluate what you’re angry about. Evaluate the reason and respond accordingly and you too will be acting in a Christ-like manner.
These are just a few of the intense emotions that we have in common with Jesus.
To speak the truth in love means that we never use our intense emotions to cause intentional harm to others, but it also doesn’t mean that we allow inappropriate, ungodly behavior to continue.
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This is all so true and confirming! There seems to be this notion that showing love does not include teaching and admonishing when it absolutely does. Thank you for saying so. And I love that example about Jesus overturning the tables; He also made a whip that He used on them! ??
I’m so glad you found it helpful. Thanks so much for reading Robyn!