SHINE: Receive by the Spirit — Speaking Truth in Love

SHINE! … By the Spirit™ with Tonya M. Evans

Speaking Truth in Love

© 2011 Tonya M. Evans

June 20, 2011

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. (Ephesians 4: 15)

In the passage quoted above, Paul is speaking to the Christians at Ephesus about spiritual growth. In verse 15 he focuses on speaking the truth in love as a critical step on the path toward spiritual maturity. This concept, however, is easier said than done (pun intended). For starters, the declaration includes two parts; the first is objective (one truth) and the second is subjective (many expressions of love). This passage led me to consider what exactly it means to speak truth in love?

Have you ever had the experience of sharing “constructive criticism” with someone, only to have those albeit well-intended words fall on deaf ears? Or perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of ill-timed helpful hints when all you really wanted to hear was “I love and support you no matter what you decide”?

I have been on both sides of this equation. And perhaps so have you. Quiet as it’s kept neither feels particularly good. The reason is simple. The old saying still rings true; it’s not what you say but how you say it that will determine whether words of advice or correction are received by the other person. This old saying embodies the notion of speaking truth in love; that is, speaking what is honest but doing so in a way that honors. Ephesians 4:15 shows that words of truth should be tempered with love. So understanding what love is helps us to communicate lovingly.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a says it best:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

(1 Corinthians 13 NIV)

Additionally, to speak is to communicate. Communication encompasses far more than the spoken word. In fact, most of what we communicate to others is non-verbal (what we do and the energy we emit). This is especially true when our actions or energy is inconsistent with the words we speak. For example, someone can say “come in” (to their home, office, or heart …) but their actions, body language, and energy actually scream “KEEP OUT” in the same moment. Despite their words, their actions can be “heard” loud and clear!

So what are your actions saying to others? Are your actions aligned with your words, and, more importantly, with God’s Word? Is your communication patient and kind? Or proud, envious and boastful? Angry or protective? Hopeful or untrustworthy? Simply stated, are you speaking or communicating the truth in love?

Take five minutes today to meditate and reflect on these questions. Then pray for God’s direction and strength so that your every communication is enveloped with truth and delivered so that it is actually received in the spirit in which God intends, the spirit of Love.

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