The Apostle Paul writes to the Church in Ephesus, and he has a section about the structure of the Church. This leads him to the goal of Christian maturity. In that area, he makes a statement about an action those in Christ take when they are on this road to becoming a complete believer. Ephesians 4:15 says that we should be “speaking the truth in love.”
This verse came to mind as I saw a couple walking the other day. I know the couple’s story, and I also know all the statistics about their behavior. They are making enormous mistakes, and it is obvious to me, and I am sure several other people. Watching them and knowing the path they are on led me to this question: “Who is going to speak truth into their life?” Suddenly a series of thoughts ran through my head that made this conversation complicated.
1. Speaking the truth can be cold. Sure, some people love to speak the truth. They can be mean-spirited and do not care about you personally. In fact, many will use the truth as a weapon. They know if they say the right thing at just the right time it can puncture a hole in your life and wound you deeply. They know the truth, and it is cold information that can bring the pain.
2. Speaking in love can be soft. I imagine there are people in your life who care about you deeply. Their love is so profound that they will not tell you the truth for fear of hurting you or the relationship. This is why in most marriages the spouse is not honest with their mate. A spouse, especially people early in their marriage, will never say anything negative unless it is a weapon in a fight. The people closest to us, love us too much to tell us anything we are doing is wrong. No one wants to risk their meaningful connection with other people over a harsh truth. It does not just happen in marriages, but with parents and children, friends and anytime you put people together.
3. Speaking the truth in love is rare. This is such a complicated issue for people. How do you tell someone the truth and yet let them know you are saying it because you care? I do now have all the answers to that question, but I know it needs to happen. Maybe you develop safe places and times where anything can be said without ramifications. Perhaps you go to a counselor who can help mediate a conversation. I know I do this as a pastor occasionally. Whatever method you chose, you need someone to speak the truth to you in love.
All these thoughts went through my head about this couple I saw walking, and then the conversation in my head took another turn? Who is there in my life who is willing to speak the truth in love? I need to know when my problems are increasing. I need someone to point out to me when I am walking the wrong path. I need to know the truth without it being used to hurt me.
The reality is that all of us need a few people in our lives who can live out this one command. We need people willing to speak the truth in love to us. As a Christian, I would say those people need to be believers. People who care about you personally and spiritually are vital to you reaching your full potential for God. Who is there like this in your life? Who is there in mine?