Ephesians 4:14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
The part of the passage that gets my attention this morning is v.15 – as you can see by the italics. Specifically I am drawn to the phrase “speaking the truth in love”. There are two elements here, “truth” and “love”. We need them both.
When we speak truth with our Christian brothers and sisters, we reflect back to them reality as we see it. It might be affirming truth or critical truth, but it’s still truth. Yet sharing critical truth – without love – can be perceived as condemnation. Instead of giving life, truth without love takes life away. If you were ever a fan of the TV show “American Idol” in the years when Simon Cowell was a judge you know what I mean. His comments were often spot-on as he is a brilliant observer of musical talent, yet because his criticisms were often cutting and degrading in nature, he often came across as cruel rather than constructive.
On the other hand love without truth is little better. We depend on people who love us to tell us the truth, even difficult truth. Especially difficult truth. It’s much easier to receive difficult truth from someone you KNOW is in your corner, loves you, wants you to prosper. Most good teachers/coaches/mentors fall into this category. They will affirm things in you that you may not see in yourself. Yet they will also push you and challenge you to give your very best.
I try very hard to offer both truth and love to people in my life, but I know I often get this wrong. It can be hard to know which of the two is required in a given situation. And if I’m honest I probably lean more toward love/affirmation than truth/challenge. The Lord has some work to do in me here.
Lord Jesus, truth and love are both very important things we all need. Give us grace to offer both to others and to receive them both from others. Amen.