Speaking the truth in Love
In my reading from Scripture this morning, I spent some time meditating upon Proverbs 28:23 “One who rebukes a person will later find more favor than one who flatters with his tongue (HCSB).” A few thoughts came to my mind this morning as I spent time asking God to help me understand and apply this verse.
First, I must be watching after my own heart before I should ever consider helping another with theirs. Jesus taught this in the Sermon on the Mount. “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:4-5).” Our culture teaches it is wrong to ever correct someone else, because we are not supposed to judge others, however, for followers of Jesus we have been taught by Him to first watch ourselves and then we can help others.
Second, if I am walking close to God, than my love for others (especially the family of God) should compel me to say difficult things to those we love from time to time. The key thing to remember is that our conversation should be grounded in Scripture and not preferences. We learn from Paul’s letter to Timothy that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).” See the motivation, the other’s good and God’s glory. I am not attempting to push my preferences but God’s teaching concerning holiness.
Lastly, how I say something is as important as what I say. Scripture teaches, “But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head–Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part (Ephesians 4:15-16).” I had a good friend once tell me that this verse doesn’t say “Speak to those you love truth, but speaking the truth in love…” This helps me remember to pray before I have a conversation with someone I love about something that must be said and might hurt.
“The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive (Proverbs 27:6).”
Points of Application for me and you…
* Am I watching after my own heart and pursuing Christ?
* Am I praying for God to help me in my pursuit of Him, even if it means being rebuked by someone who will help me see my sin against God and help me grow in Christ-likeness?
* Am I willing to say a difficult thing to a friend, if I know they are headed for trouble, with prayerfulness and love for them and love for God as my motivation?