Lucia's Blog: SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, October 18, 2018

SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE



"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."  
Ephesians 4:15-16


Can you imagine yourself standing before the throne of God, with Jesus at His right hand and hearing Him say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”? We are thoroughly warned. Jesus is very plain, and mercifully clear because He wants the best for us. He spoke the Truth in love.  How can we be saved from that horrible moment? Please consider with me some basic principles that God has placed in our hands, to prepare us for that fateful day.

God chose the preaching of the Truth to save and edify us (1 Cor. 1:18-21).  Throughout the New Testament book of Acts, we see preachers "speaking" and an audience "hearing" the Truth of God (Acts 2:7, 14, 37).  The Word is the "seed of the kingdom," and it is the Truth (Lk. 8:11; Jn. 17:17).  The apostle Paul urged the brethren at Ephesus saying,
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ." (Eph. 4:15).

Paul presents spiritual growth in verses 11-16 to the brethren at Ephesus.  The early church had miraculous gifts, (verses 10-11) to confirm the Word (The New Testament).  The purpose of these gifts was to "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."  (Eph. 4:12).  The purpose of the Word and these gifts was to keep the church steady and guard them against error (verse 14).  When God's Word was revealed to man in its fullness, the New Testament (1 Cor. 12:8-10; Jas. 1:25), these miraculous gifts ceased, (verse 13).  Thus, "speaking the Truth in love" is part of God's plan and provision for spiritual growth (verse 15).  It is important that we stress that in our context Truth is objective and in love is subjective.  Truth then is concrete while the purpose of speaking the Truth in love is not as obvious.  The purpose of my study is to examine the meaning of "speaking the Truth in love."


I.   WHAT SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE IS NOT:

There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about what it means to speak the Truth in love.  In fact, it some circumstances it is almost impossible to speak the Truth in love.  I must stress that speaking the Truth in love is not holding back parts of the Truth, for we must declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  The apostle Paul loved the Truth so much that he even allowed it to make enemies of those whom he loved (Gal. 4:16).  I often hear someone say, "you don't have to teach on all matters, in fact, if you love people, you will spare them the Truth, especially on uncomfortable and painful subjects."  "If you have love, you will not teach on divorce and remarriage because you know many have been married to others!"  So, they demand that that part of the Truth be restrained or held back, thus abusing the charge "speaking the Truth in love" as their authority (Matthew 19:9).  They ignore that love causes one to declare the whole counsel of God rather than withholding the Truth.

Speaking the Truth in love is not watering down the Truth.  Many teachers water down and weaken the Truth (1 Peter 2:12).  Often we hear people say, "do not rock the boat."  They don't want the Truth to upset them.  But the same Paul who wrote, inspired by the Holy Spirit, "speak the Truth in love" also said, "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching."  (2 Timothy 4:2).  "Speaking the Truth in love" does not mean that we may be ambiguous, that the hearers not understand the truth in their case.  Although some are skilled at being wordy, what they say is not really understood, because they're not clear and precise in their preaching and teaching.  Those who were led by the Spirit in the first century spoke the Truth in love clearly and precisely (Acts 2:37, 38-41).


II.   SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE IS:

  • Speaking The Truth With Spiritual Balance:
It is not enough to be a spokesman or proclaimer of God's Truth and to be a kind and loving person, for one must be both.  There must be a balance in the life of Christians when it comes to Truth and love.  Like so many things in life, there must be a balance for things to work well.  For instance, if we fail to balance our tires in our car, our tires will run the risk of wearing out quickly.  There are other physical examples that one may consider.  But what about the spiritual one?  There must be a balance for Christians between Truth and love.  In Ephesians 4:15, Paul spoke about the need for "speaking the Truth in love" so that the body of Christ could achieve spiritual maturity and stability. We Christians can easily lose our balance when we fail to put enough emphasis on the side of love.  One might be a strong defender of the Truth with a thorough knowledge of it, but at the same time lack genuine concern for the well being of the other person.  This creates an imbalance.  By the same token, a Christian can be out of balance when he fails to stress the Truth.  He might be gentle, compassionate and caring, but if he fails to communicate God's Truth faithfully, he is out of balance.  It is critical to stress the importance of both sides.  Christians can lose their balance if they're not careful!  You see, to speak the Truth is not enough, for such must be done in love.  Likewise, to show just love to someone is not enough either, for such must be done in harmony with the will of God.  We can do a lot of harm when we know the Truth, but in the name of love to others, we fail to communicate all of God's truths to them.  In both cases, God is not pleased, and His name and cause are hindered.
    • "Speaking the Truth in love" Demands that we love the Truth:
Is the Truth more important than love?  Or is love more important than the Truth?  If you answer yes to either question, you are out of balanceFor Truth is love and love is Truth (Romans 13:8-10).  You drop either one, and you lose both! Indeed, do one, and the other will come.  God commands us not to compromise what He thinks is vital for the church to carry His purpose.  Christ wants us to speak the Truth in love and become more like Him.  He wants us to proclaim the Truth in love and to live faithful to the love that Truth teaches.  He does not want us to compromise either one in any way, for they both are essential to glorifying Him (John 1:14).  Sadly, we often swing from one extreme to the other.  We have some that are contentious and love to argue with others when they speak the Truth.  They deceive themselves into thinking that they know everything, but in fact, they know nothing!  They disregard the fact that loving one another is also Truth.  On the other hand, we have those in our culture who hate the Truth and don't care about it.  They think love is the answer for everything, so love perfectly summarizes all Truth.  They abuse the sacred meaning of loveLove is not toleration of sin, for sin has no room for the Truth.  Without Truth, there can be no love.  For many this Truth is hard to grasp, forgetting that it is crucial for us to take hold of the Truth.  Christ in His marvelous wisdom has placed a beautiful balance on both.  We are challenged to live the Truth out.  Speaking the Truth in love is presenting it to those who need to hear even if it offends and they are uncomfortable listening to itTo love is to speak the Truth and not misrepresent itWe must not under any circumstance compromise the Truth in the name of love!  

Men must love the Truth before they thoroughly believe it.  It will be difficult to convince anyone of the Truth about any issue if they're not willing to accept and believe it, no matter how much effort one can put into teaching it to them.  If there is no love for the Truth, it will be difficult to forfeit everything to acquire it.  In Proverbs 23:23 we are advised to "buy the truth and sell it not."  There must be a desire for the Truth, to accept it and live it.  In John 17:17 Jesus said, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."  The Bible is the Truth.  Jesus also said, "and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  (John 8:32).  Thus, the Bible is God's Word.  When we love the Truth, we want to know the teachings found in the Bible, God's Sacred Book.  We want to hunger and thirst for the Truth so that we can grow in that knowledge.  In doing this, you can rest assured that this will help you have the doctrinal stability spoken of in Ephesians 4:13-14.  
"Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."  

I assure you that if you diligently study your Bible, you will learn the Truth and you won't be easily deceived by the false teachings of men!  The Bible must be our only standard and guide, for it is God's breathed Truth that we must love and cherish.  It is impossible to speak the Truth in love without first loving the Truth with all of your heart and mind.
    • "Speaking the Truth in love" demands that we speak the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth:
Truth does not fellowship with falsehood.  Falsehood disregards Truth and Truth is hurt by silence.  Truth must be spoken without any loopholes, lies or false statements.  It is not enough to love the Truth and speak the Truth, because we must speak the whole Truth and nothing else.  God demands that of us.  In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul stated, 
"How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you in public and from house to house... Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."  (Acts 20:20, 26-27).  

Paul acknowledged that if anyone whom he taught perished, it was not because he refused or failed in teaching them the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth!  He was not afraid to speak all of God's Truth, counselNo one could intimidate him into silence. What about us?
    • "Speaking the Truth in love" demands that we speak the Truth boldly, yet lovingly:
To speak the Truth boldly, yet lovingly is difficult to do, for one must balance speaking boldly with speaking lovingly.  Some might say that it is impossible.  don't think so!  So what does it mean to speak the Truth boldly, yet lovingly?  It means speaking Truth boldly but not harshly or in an overly aggressive manner.  We must not be mean-spirited, cynical or repulsive when speaking the Truth to others.  But we must be kind and firm. We do this because we love their soul!  Boldness implies not being afraid even when danger is present.  The apostles all spoke the Truth boldly, for they were not afraid of the consequences even when their lives were threatened or placed in danger.  We see this clearly in Acts 20 when Paul declared to the brethren that he did not hide any portion of the Truth from them.  He did not “beat around the bush” nor was he evasive in speaking the whole counsel of God to them on any subject even if he thought it might offend themHe was plain and to the point.  He did not “water down the Truth,” or “sugar-coat” the Message to avoid hurting their feelings or offend them.  I know this because of his statement in Galatians 4:16, 
"Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?"  
You see the apostle Paul loved the Truth, and he was honest and open. He “laid everything on the table,” neither holding back nor hiding anything, for he wanted them to see TruthHe spoke boldly and did not compromise God's Truth.  But, is that what we do today?  I'm afraid not!  

Sadly, many Christians know the Truth but are not willing to take a stand to defend or speak the Truth boldly!  It is as if they were afraid to open their mouths, perhaps, because they are intimidated by the opposition, or they simply don't want to hurt anyone's feelingsThey don't want to offend anyone or lose a friend!  But you know what? This kind of mindset is wrong, and God is not pleased!  Do you not know that when we refuse to speak the Truth boldly to the lost and those in error, knowing the Truth, we are not showing that we love the Truth?  If I know someone who is walking in darkness (lost spiritually and in error), deceiving themselves because they believe that they are saved when in fact they are not but refuse to speak the Truth to them about their soul, then I am not showing them love since I remain silent.  That simple!  So what does my silence reflect?  Cowardice, lack of love, for you are not sharing the Truth with them so that they can respond to itIt shows that you don't care if they die in error and go to hell!  That is terrible and sad my brethren!  You will be accountable to the Judge!  So resolve to be courageous and ask God to help you in speaking the Truth boldly!

Isn't it something how some are prompt to defend their silence!  They say, "there is nothing wrong with the path of less resistance, striving not to offend anyone.  After all, we are supposed to imitate Christ and just love and accept everyone."  But is that right?!  Not at all!  Can't you see how much our Lord Jesus loved mankind that He was willing to die a horrible death for all?!  He loved us more than anyone can fathom.  But really, how did Jesus speak?  He spoke boldly!   In Matthew 23, Jesus labeled the scribes and Pharisees “murderers,”  and challenged them, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”  Wow!!  Those are very strong words from the lips of the loving Jesus!  Without a doubt, Jesus offended them, for He wanted them to repentAnd though Jesus spoke the Truth in love, He was never a softy!  

My brethren, when we speak the Truth in love, we are speaking the whole Truth kindly!  We must speak the Truth to show others, especially those lost in sin and error, that we care for them and love them even though the Truth might offend them.  There is no other way to balance the teeter-totter of Truth and love!  We do this because we love the souls of those who are in error.  We don't have to love their actions, tolerate their error and compromise to show love and concern for their souls, for this is God's way and His key to church discipline.  Thus we must speak out against sin and error with the right attitude of heart, for that is speaking the Truth in love.  And though we must strive for peace as commanded by God, we must never let peace take precedence over the Truth!  We must not compromise the Truth, teaching just certain things to tickle people's ears to make them feel good and not be offended.  Remember what Jesus said in Revelation 3:19, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent."  Thus, we must speak the Truth faithfully yet kindly!
    • "Speaking the Truth in love" demands that we practice it:  
To love the Truth is to obey it.  Not only do we need to love the Truth with all of our heart, to speak it boldly and lovingly, but we must also put it into practice.  We must practice what we teach and preach, living the Truth out in our daily lives, that we may teach others effectively how to live godly and righteously.  How can we expect others to change and be transformed if we are not practicing what we are teaching (Romans 2:21)?  God demands that we put into practice His Truth, that is, we must live by the Bible!  We must guard our influence wisely, for it will hinder the Truth Message, affecting how others might discern and receive it when we speak it to them.  Those who love the Truth, believe the Truth, and obey it (I Peter 1:22-23).  To speak the Truth in love is to do the will of God (2 Thess. 2:8-12).  Truth demands obedience to God's commandments.  Therefore, we do not have the Truth if we are walking in darkness and not keeping His commandments (I John 2:4).   It is not enough to say “Lord, Lord” if we do not obey the Truth and do the will of God (Matt. 7:21).  Likewise, we must not be just hearers but doers of the Word of God (James 1:22-24).  We must also walk in the Truth (3 John 4).  So those who are not walking in the Truth of the Gospel must be rebuked (Gal. 2:14; 4:16).  Practicing the Truth is living by the Golden Rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matt. 7:12).  Of course, if you sincerely labor to always speak the Truth in love to your friends, enemies, family members, and strangers, you are helping them to obey the Truth that they might be saved


CONCLUSION:

When we speak the Truth in love boldly and yet kindly, we will grow spiritually, for Christians will increase in their spiritual maturity, and the lost will come to the knowledge of the Truth.  Speaking the Truth in love might bring some adverse reactions.  When Jesus spoke the Truth in love, it caused some of His disciples to walk no more with Him and even resulted in division among some Jews (John 6:66; 7:43).  Speaking the Truth in love also caused Stephen to be murdered by an angry mob (Acts 7).  Despite adverse reactions, we Christians must speak the Truth in love making sure that what we are teaching is the Truth, giving book, chapter and verse (1 Thess. 5:21).  Often the one who is presenting the Truth is charged for not speaking the Truth in love by those who disagree and want to find fault with the messenger, when in fact, they are dispising the Truth and are opposing it.  And though Paul spoke the Truth in love, he still spoke what was relevant to his hearers, in a manner both plain and effective.  Our goal must be to speak the Truth in love yet boldly enough for the hearer to receive the MessageA servant of the Lord must be able to teach patiently, gently, and with humility those who are in error that perhaps they might know the Truth so that God can forgive them (2 Tim. 2:24-25).  That is, the teacher must himself put into practice what he is teaching, for knowledge of the Bible is worth nothing if we don't teach the Truth lovingly and gently.  Indeed, this is the mark of maturity!  (Eph. 4:14-15).

 It is common today to find a worldly and cheap form of "Christianity."  One which offends nobody, demands no sacrifice, no cost, and thus has very little value. We must be wary of today's modern version of what is called Christianity. It is the one that accepts some forms of sin and thus refuses to conform to the divine pattern. It asks for limited obedience but does not wish to offend and correct the one who sins or is in error.  We cannot practice open fellowship without rebuke and disciplinary correction for wrongdoing and error (Eph. 5:11; 2 John 10-11).  Our Lord Jesus Christ is against it! (Rev. 2:20He did not tolerate sin (Hab. 1:13).  He never told anyone to accept, compromise and tolerate sin (John 2:13-17).  He openly challenged and confronted sin and error (Matt. 15:7-14; Matt. 23).  So we Christians must never compromise with error or sin (Gal. 2:5; Rev. 2:2).  Why?  Simply because religious and doctrinal error is sin against God (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 John 9).  And although Paul declared in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, “Becoming all things to men,” he never implied that we have to accept or compromise with sin.  So what must we do then?  We must let our lights shine in the darkness (Matt. 5:14-16; Phil. 2:15).  Live our faith, maintaining a clean conscience (Rev. 13:14-17).  Teach the Message of salvation by speaking the Truth in love and never be ashamed (2 Tim. 1:8-10; Acts 17:6).  I often hear complaints about someone who opposes sin and error. They say he is not loving and accepting enough when the fact is he does love them, but not their sin or error. Let's never forget that our Lord Jesus died to redeem us from eternal punishment. This is how He has shown His love for us. 

You see, sinners will never obey the Gospel if they see Christians compromising their faith and convictions for the sake of convenience or earthly security (to be protected from harm).  Thus we must fight the good fight of our faith, speak the Truth in love, know our Bible well and know its opponents well. We must not become bitter, or antagonistic, or take vengeance but rather show love to them, especially when they are our brethren, even though they may count us as enemies when we correct them and speak the Truth in love about sin (1 Tim. 6:12; 1 Peter 2:12; 2 Tim. 2:24; Matt. 5:38-45; Jude 3-4; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).  Although we must challenge false teachers, refuse their false doctrines and refuse to have fellowship with them, we still must judge with righteous judgment and suffer for righteousness sakeGod is not pleased when we fail to communicate His Truth to those who are living in sin and teaching error.  He demands that we love the Truth and speak it boldly (yet lovingly), for we must not have a mean spirit when we speak God’s TruthsWe must speak the Truth firmly but kindly.  God loves their souls and so must we.  Sadly, many know the Truth but refuse to take a stand and speak boldly (without fear even in the presence of danger), for they do not want to hurt people’s feelings.  We don’t want to offend anybody!  We don’t want to lose a friend!  When we know the Truth but refuse to speak it boldly to the lost and those in error, we are not showing love!  Do you think it is love to remain silent about the Truth when you see someone who is lost spiritually but thinks that he is saved?   Silence is cowardice. It certainly is not love to hold back the Truth that you know that might lead them to repent and escape the wrath of God. I would rather become their enemy for speaking the Truth than to let them die in error and go to hell!  Remember that Jesus spoke boldly because He loved the souls of people and showed His love by dying a terrible and painful death on the cross

Remaining silent and avoiding conflict in doctrinal matters is not speaking the Truth in love, for it is not God’s way!  We have abundant examples in the Bible of men who spoke the Truth even when it cost them their own lives.  Remember John the baptizer who boldly told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”  (Matt. 14:4).  Do you suppose John spoke the Truth out of love?  You’d better believe he did!  It cost John his life!  Both Jesus and John were not afraid to speak the Truth regardless of what others might do to them.  Do you remember that the Pharisees were offended by the words of Jesus in Matthew 15 when He denied their teaching about washing their hands before eating?  Stephen in Acts 7 was stoned to death for telling the Truth to the Jewish Freedmen because they did not love the Truth and refused to hear it.  We likewise must speak the Truth in love even when that same Truth offends others!  Yet we must do it kindly, for we love the souls of those in error.  But we must not tolerate error and compromise the Truth, for we must speak out against it.  Yes, we must strive for peace, but that does not necessarily mean that we are going to let peace take first place over the Truth. Speaking the Truth in love is not tickling people’s ears to make them feel good.  Speaking the Truth demands that we put into practice that same Truth.  How can we expect others to repent and change if we are not willing to practice what we preach?  It is vital to guard our influence carefully, for it may hinder the Message.  So we must determine to always speak the Truth to our friends, to our enemies, and to strangers, to the best of our ability that they might be saved and escape the wrath of God.  Love for sinners must compel us to rebuke sin in love, and not remain silent.  Even when we reprove and chastise those in sin and error properly, it is an act of love, for it is like the Lord’s chastisement.  Our love for Jesus and all others is enough reason to oppose sin, for to fail to oppose sin is a failure to love God and the sinner (Luke 14:26).  When we love sinners, we show them the Truth that will prick their hearts.  It is a way of showing mercy to the lost, for we want to snatch them from the fire, hating the filth of sin.

We must teach the Truth to others even though it might offend.  So let us not be so concerned about  "offending" this world.  Remember that the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness...."  (2 Peter 3:10-11).  

Let's never forget that being a true disciple of Christ will bring us ridicule, scorn, opposition, and persecution. Let's search our hearts and meditate on Jesus' Words. We do not want to be shamed by Him on that final Day of Judgment.
"Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven... And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity."  (Matthew 7:21-23).  

May we never hold back the Truth but speak it boldly and in love, declaring the whole counsel of God to all men that they might repent and be saved.  

Luci