Speaking the truth in love is like a spoonful of sugar, which makes the medicine go down. Truth is sometimes nice to hear, especially when someone compliments you without trying to schmooze up to you. Truth people like to hear sounds something like this: “Truthfully, you’re one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen.” We like to hear that kind of truth. But – what if the truth is ugly? Truth is still truth.
Here is where Paul’s advice comes in. He wrote in his letter addressed to Ephesus, an ancient Greek settlement in modern-day Turkey: “Speak the truth in love.” I find myself struggling with just that. One of the hardest things for me is to open my mouth and speak sad truth, especially knowing that it is difficult to accept. Without love the sad truth would be impossible to deliver. Without love there is probably no chance the message will be well-received. And without love the receiver of that message is not going to embrace it either, and isn’t that the ultimate reason why sad truth is communicated – unless of course our intentions are to condemn? Reality check: Jesus’ motivation has always been to restore; that’s why we hear Him say (John 3:17):
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Condemning, by its very nature, has given up on the so-judged person and is ready to throw this person into the trash. Condemning a person is like dumping a person. On the other hand speaking the truth in love is respecting and valuing that same person others have given up on.
So, speaking the truth in love is all about motivation – and we have the wisdom of ages to help us with that very difficult task, the Spirit of God, aka the Holy Spirit. Let’s not give up on anybody, and that includes us all. Instead of beating ourselves up because of recent failures, we want to speak encouragement into our own life by saying what needs to be said in love. Love is very powerful. Love brings the dead to life. There’s precious hope in love; and love is God’s trademark. John, one of Jesus followers, wrote in his letter (1 John 4:8):
“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
If God is love, so are His children. Here’s to love!