Speaking the Truth in Love
Ephesians 4:15 …but, speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ….
Some scriptures are directed at certain kinds of people: pastors, husbands, wives, children, or those who find themselves in certain circumstances, such as having been offended (Matthew 18). Some scriptures “speak” more directly to others, such as those that address talking too much (Proverbs 10:19) or those directed to folks that are fearful or prone to anger.
But some scriptures sit on the page gloriously applying to everybody—and challenging us all. Ephesians 4:15 is one of those. It sets up a spectrum that includes everyone. One on side, or perhaps at one extreme, we find the person who has no trouble speaking the truth. That one is direct, clear, sure, and possibly even accurate.
On the other side, or at the other extreme, are those that want to express love and acceptance to everyone. They might be great encouragers, and they excel at finding the strengths of others and the positive aspects of any given situation.
Then there are the rest of us in between. We don’t want to intentionally hurt anyone, yet we know there are things that sometimes need to be said and situations that need to be firmly addressed.
To the truth-oriented, Ephesians 4:15 reminds us that love is sensitive to timing, and that it matters when something is said. It also reminds us that tone of voice can make a difference in how something is received (Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath.) Speaking something in love requires a special sensitivity to the person hearing the truth and to the circumstances around both that person and the issue at hand.
To the one who always tries to speak lovingly, this scripture challenges us to see that love and truth are not opposed to one another, nor is it acting in love to be untruthful in any way. Speaking the truth keeps us from being hypocritical, or acting out of fear of rejection.
This scripture holds before us a vision of holding two things in active suspension—love and truth—which can only be done under the direction of the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. No one is automatically good at doing this; it takes practice and a heart leaning on the Lord.
There is no set formula for speaking the truth in love, but setting the goal always before us reminds us of our utter dependence on the Lord to follow His word here. We’ll never find “the method” with practice, but we will learn to grow in strength and grace to help us find “the way” each time.
Prayer: Lord, this one is a challenge. Help me to see that if You call us to speak the truth in love, then You have a way for us to do that each time. Help me to move away from either extreme that excludes the other, and give me a greater understanding of Your heart, a heart that always joins truth with love.