Dear Church family,
It was again, as always, great to worship God together with you on Sunday.
I want to elaborate on how we tighten that belt of truth in our conversation with others (Eph. 6:14).
And this means speaking into somebody’s lifestyle because truth is not theoretical but practical. The truth that somebody believes will always impact their lifestyle.
For that reason, I am sure that this may be one of the hardest things to do as Christians, “speak the truth in love” with others (Eph. 4:15), as it means disagreeing with a way that they live their life contrary to the truth.
So how can we speak the truth in love on battleground topics with our family and friends who are not walking in the truth?
First of all, I’ll admit that this is very challenging for me too, but here are a few tips on how I think through how it looks to “speak the truth in love.”
(1) Be patient – There can be a right time and a wrong time to speak the truth with others, whether that be the truth of the Gospel or the truth of somebody’s lifestyle that runs clearly contradictory to God’s good design. We need to be patient for the right moment to share the truth and not assume that just because we haven’t spoken our concern for a few months, that means we aren’t willing to speak the truth to our friend. We can be patient.
However, there may come a point when you realize that the time never feels right for telling your friend/neighbor/child the hard truth. In that case, be creative. Plan an appointment. Invite them over to your house to speak with them, give them a phone call to speak with them, invite them to breakfast, perhaps write that person a note where you tell the truth.
(2) Ask questions & listen intently – As we approach our friends and family as soldiers of the truth, we want to love them with the truth, but how? I’ve found that asking them questions and then listening intently to their story, if you don’t know it, and their feelings and their mindset, is crucially important. It shows that you actually care to know what is happening in that person. Everybody has different reasons for getting caught up in a lie or believing a lie. It always helps a person to receive your correction and exhortation of the truth if you’ve demonstrated an inquisitive spirit and open ear.
Also, observe carefully. If you sense that your friend doesn’t want to hear what you want to say and has a very resistant spirit, be brief. Don’t cram the truth down his/her throat. State the truth, then change topics.
(3) Speak sensitively and compassionately – As you speak the truth in love with your friend, it is important that your emotions are in alignment with your words. I believe that a person can tell if your heart is broken for that individual as you tell them the truth.
It doesn’t matter if you stumble over your words; it matters that you align the truth with your love for that person. In my personal experience, if I need to confront a lie with truth to an individual, it helps me if I’m distraught for that person, and feel deeply broken hearted for that person.
(4) Speak without apology – “the truth needs no defence” as my wife often says who learned it from her dad. That is true. And often, in an attempt to be kind and loving in our truth telling, we apologize for the truth as if we are almost doing something wrong for telling somebody the truth. We do that because we realize that the truth hurts people’s feelings and even offends them when they aren’t living by it. We need to learn how to care more about what God thinks than our listeners think. I’m convinced that many of us are simply selfish in the way that we tell the truth or don’t at all. We understand that the person won’t like what we have to say, and so we back away from it.
There will be people who call you unkind and mean for telling the truth even though you did it in a kind and compassionate way.
(5) Rest in the truth – After telling the truth, rest. You don’t need to repeat yourself to this person over and over again. They heard the truth and know the truth. The Holy Spirit can work in their lives. My wife and I have both spoken truth to various friends in our lives who are unsaved but religious, or who are homosexual and married. They know what we believe and we rest in that. Perhaps at a point, after a few years, we’ll reopen that truth discussion, but our confrontation for truth, we know, is memorable in their minds and ours.
(6) Pray diligently – This should actually be the first step prior to telling somebody hard confrontational truth, but it also needs to be a part of the whole process. It’s hard to speak the truth in love with somebody who errors, and it takes courage and boldness. Often, we simply don’t know how go about it or what to say. And that’s why we need to pray and ask God to help us speak truth in an upbuilding way.
Just imagine if the person that shared the Gospel with you decided not to on the grounds that you wouldn’t like what they had to say? My point is, if you tell the truth in EVERY area with the intent to build up that person as you see them tearing themself down with lies, God can use that by His Spirit to bring somebody to conviction and amend their life, just as the Gospel did in your life. We speak the truth because it’s good for people and so we speak the truth and hope that they change for the better because we love them.
I pray that we are a loving Church who feels more brokenhearted for those living in sin around us (including ourselves) while also depending on God’s help to speak to the truth from that love as God gives us opportunities.
May God help you in the relationships around your life that deeply need truth. God’s truth is good as He is Truth! Let’s not hesitate to speak the truth, then, but let’s be patient, bold, kind, attentive and true in all that we say!
Love in truth & Love Himself,