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When to Speak Truth

Monday, July 5, 2010

Category: Attitudes, Family, Friends, God Can Use You

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 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

No matter how hard we try, none of us can walk a tightrope between truth and love. We can't balance somewhere between them on some relational high wire with truth on one side and love on the other. Ephesians 4:15 and 1 Corinthians 13:6 tell us to “speak the truth in love” and love “rejoices with the truth.” Truth and love is not an either/or choice, but rather a both/and. To be like Christ, we are to communicate truth as an expression of love.

There are times in every relationship when an issue is so serious that failure to take action could produce a big fallout. In those situations, love doesn’t passively sit by. How do you know when to speak the truth in love? Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this a critical path? If the person you love is involved in behavior that could destroy him or someone else, love will get involved.

  2. Is the problem chronic? If you see the same thing happening over and over, it doesn’t have to be big to get your love into gear.

  3. Does your proximity imply responsibility? How close are you to the situation? You can tolerate some things from your neighbors and close friends do, not with your spouse and kids.

Confrontations like this are not as common in life as you might think. If you were to list a hundred situations that could possibly require confronting a friend, spouse, or neighbor, there would probably be only three or so things could fit the “major” category. The other 97 issues are minors—personal preferences, personality differences, even sin issues that are not critical or chronic.

Here’s a principle for deciding when to speak the truth in love. In major issues: speak up; take action. On minor issues—acceptance. The followers of Christ must be the most non-prejudiced, non-faultfinding, non-critical people on the face of the earth. Too often we’re not, but we should be. Love learns to accept the person with his or her faults. Love doesn’t deny the reality of the irritation; it simply recognizes that the one you love is far more important than your own desire to live an irritant-free life.

On the majors—action. On the minors—acceptance. In all things, love.

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