Speaking the Truth in Love

Ephesians 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love. . .”

What does it mean to “speak the truth in love”?  It’s interesting that this is something that is commanded in Scripture.  Typically, when we must be commanded to do something, it is because it runs counter to what we would otherwise do.  Who needs to be commanded to do what comes naturally?  When water is set before a person who is very thirsty, he doesn’t have to be told to drink, for drinking is the natural reaction.  Speaking the truth, i.e., the truth of scripture, is not “natural” however.  The world, which Satan, the father of lies, controls, is opposed to truth.  The “common knowledge” about many things, is nothing more than a commonly held lie that people believe because they are easy to believe.  For example, one of the common lies of this age is that human beings are naturally “good” at heart, and they must be taught to be evil.  In direct contrast to this, the Bible tells us that “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Very few people like to hear this, and even fewer people like to say it to others, for the reaction of others to this is typically negative and even hostile. Yet we are told to “speak the truth”. 

But then, how do you say such things “in love”.  Well for one, the love that the Bible talks about here is not a warm fuzzy feeling.  The Greek word for God’s love, agape, means “self-sacrificial service for others”. It’s an action verb that involves sacrificial actions of kindness and charity toward others.  It is in such love that the truth, though it might hurt, might possibly be received at some point by those who hear it.  And speaking the truth, when done in such a spirit, is an act of love. 

To encourage people in their sin, however, is anything but love.  We commonly hear that it is not loving to call out sexual sin.   We are told if people really “love” each other, then who are we to tell them that they are living a life of sin.  However, if you really want to hate someone, work to confirm them in this or any other sin, for in so doing, you may have a hand in their eternal destruction which is warned of in Scripture.  God’s truth and God’s love, are concepts largely foreign to the understanding of this world, but commanded of Christ’s followers to bring to the world in spite of the likely negative reactions of those who receive it.  That’s the true love of the one who “While we were yet sinners, . . . died for us” (Romans 5:8), i.e., the same sinners who put Him to death.     

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