…speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things
into Him who is the head—Christ (Ephesians 4:15, NKJV)
Babies are adorable, and they can get away with childish behavior because…well, they’re babies and we don’t expect anything else from them. But when adults behave childishly (which usually translates into “selfishly”), it’s not so cute or adorable, is it?
The Scriptures tell us that the way to “grow up in all things” in Christ is to speak the truth in love. I struggle with the truth part because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Some people I know ignore the love part and just blurt out truth, leaving a trail of wounded listeners behind them.
There is a reason for the two-part admonition to speak the truth in love. Love without truth isn’t really love at all. It allows people to remain in their sin, to wallow in destructive lifestyles, and to wreak havoc on others. Truth without love, however, can so damage the listeners that they never really recover but carry their wounds through the rest of their lives and often pass them on to those within their sphere of influence.
Speaking the truth in love has a specific purpose: to restore right relationship, first with God and second with others. That’s the ministry of reconciliation which Jesus began while He was on earth and which He has now given to us. We fulfill that ministry by knowing God’s truth (as revealed through His Son, through the Scriptures, and through His Holy Spirit living within us), and then speaking that truth to others with the intention of seeing them saved, healed, delivered, and fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. If we are not delivering the truth with that pure intention, then we are not speaking it in love.
It all starts with our own “knowing” of the truth, meaning we have a personal relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives within us as a result of that relationship, and we cultivate/deepen that relationship by reading/studying/living the truth of the Holy Scriptures. The world is full of lost, broken, and hurting people who need “grown-up” Christians to speak the truth in love. Let’s commit to move beyond the cute baby stage of our faith and become effective truth-in-love speakers to those who so desperately need to hear it!