How should you speak the truth?
Without bitterness, without indulgence, with patience, with gentleness.
- Colmán mac Beógnai, Aipgitir Chrábaid, Irish 7th century
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth…
- 2 Timothy 2.24, 25
Speaking truth in love is a mark of a healthy Christian and a healthy, growing church (Eph. 4.15). But speaking truth in love is decidedly not a mark of our present generation of reticent evangelicals.
Why is this?
Two obstacles stand in the way of learning to speak the truth in love.
The first is that you must love the truth. We are most animated in our conversations about things that are important to us, things that delight or enrich us, things we love. If you do not love the truth of God and His Word, you won’t exert yourself to learn it, much less to talk about or defend it when it is called into question, doubted, or denied, or when the opportunity comes to share its Good News.
To love the truth, you must court it continually, engage in conversation with it, take it into your heart and mind, yield all your life to it, speak often with others who love it, and thank the One Who gives us His truth. There is no substitute for time spent with the Word to bring us to the place of loving God’s truth.
Before you begin to speak out on behalf of the truth, make sure you love it well.
The second obstacle is that you must love those to whom you would speak about the truth. If you do not love your neighbors, you won’t care whether they hear the truth or not.
You won’t care, either, about how you present the truth to them, and you may be just as content to bash and hammer them with truth as to speak with humility, patience, and gentleness.
Loving God and His truth, and loving our neighbors both require conversation – prayer and Bible reading, on the one hand, and prayer and talking with our neighbors on the other.
Loving those to whom you would speak the truth can be as difficult as loving the truth. Both require time and effort, and an always-open line of communication. We must learn to start, resume, and continue conversations, both with the Lord and with our neighbors. And we’ll need to develop certain skills with God – prayer and Bible reading and study – and our neighbors – asking questions, listening, paying attention – in order for those times of conversation to be as fruitful as possible.
These are serious obstacles to speaking truth in love. Recognizing them as such is the starting point for overcoming them. Working continuously to overcome them is the next step.
But we can overcome both these obstacles. And think of the gain to be realized: the joy of growing in truth day by day, as we wait upon the Lord in His Word; the excitement of talking with other truth-lovers, reinforcing and edifying one another; and the adventure and utter delight of helping those who do not know the truth begin, at the very least, to glimpse it.
Work hard at loving the truth, and the truth will teach you how to love others, and to be a bearer of truth to them, in love.
1. What’s one thing you can do today to grow in love for God’s truth?
2. With whom will you talk today about God and His truth?
Psalm 119.12-17 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Be blessed, O God our Savior, teach us Your holy Word!
Our lips proclaim with favor the statutes of the Lord.
How great our joy, dear Jesus, to follow in Your ways;
what more than this could please us, or brighten all our days?
We contemplate Your precepts and cherish all Your ways,
delighting in Your statutes, rememb’ring all our days.
With wondrous bounty bless us, Your humble servants, Lord,
that we may live with Jesus, and keep His holy Word.
Help me, Lord, to love Your truth and to love those to whom I would proclaim it, so that I…
Seasoned with Grace
Paul says our conversations should be “seasoned with salt” (Col. 4.6). Need to do some work on your conversational skills? Our brief ReVision study, “Seasoned with Grace,” can help. You can download it for free by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Carey, p. 238.