I struggle to speak the truth in love. Why? I want to please people and keep the peace. I have done this since I was a small child. I want the people I am around and love to feel accepted and supported. The problem with this is that sometimes my silence allows those that I love to sin. And, without correction from other believers, we will keep on sinning.
Recently, I had an opportunity to practice speaking the truth in love in a small way. I was visiting with an elderly relative and several other family members. The elderly relative made a comment that I looked like I had really put on a lot of weight recently. I paused a moment, turned to the loved one, and said, “Actually, I recently lost weight. Beyond that, making a comment like that is rude and unhelpful.” The relative was a bit taken aback, but overall, I think took it okay. We even joked about it later. Some of you reading this might say I was disrespectful of my elders and should have let the comment pass. If the individual was not of sound mind, I would agree. However, the loved was is of sound mind and has a life-long habit of making inappropriate comments that do nothing to edify others and have nothing to do with the truth, but rather are geared more towards manipulation, controlling, and bringing attention to themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I love this person with all my heart. However, their behavior is wrong, and if I truly love them as a fellow believer, when appropriate I need to restore them.
Regardless of the age and station of people we encounter, the Bible calls us to speak the truth in love, again when appropriate, to keep a fellow believer from remaining in sin. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” In this example, I didn’t belabor the situation. I made a clear reference to the transgression and then moved the conversation forward. To belabor the comment would have been to enter into sin myself. It is quite easy to become the self-righteous pharisee when we make our job of restoring others a form of power over them.
The Lord has put it upon me to grow in this area, not only for others but for myself. Allowing others to continue to sin against me by my refusal to correct them creates a boundaryless life of a victim. As a believer, I am no longer a victim. I need more Godly boundaries in my life. However, I am under no disillusionment. I will get it wrong, probably often, as I learn this new skill. Thank goodness, God’s grace covers me as well!
I would love to hear any advice you might have in learning to speak truth in love! Please comment below or send us an email.
Contributed by Liz Hunt