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.
First of all, it’s good to be back from vacation and writing again. I needed a bit of a break. Anyway, I love this passage. There’s so much I could comment on, but I’ll limit my reflection to v.15
“But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”
The key phrase for me is “speaking the truth in love”. There are two components here – truth and love. On the one hand we have “truth”, which is the voice that brings accountability and correction. Paul has been offering truth over and over in his pastoral letters. He can sometimes be quite blunt in his criticisms of fellow Christians. On the other hand we have “love”, which often sounds like affirmation and encouragement. Over and over Paul writes about his affection for the people, how he prays for them constantly, how he is delighted in their faithfulness to the call of the gospel.
The problem is that most of us tend to focus more on either love or truth rather than both. Some leaders find it easy to name the deficiencies in other people but forget to support and encourage people first. The criticism you offer may be exactly on point, but if the recipient doesn’t trust that you care for them, they’ll likely ignore it.
Love is what earns you the right to be heard.
On the other hand some people find it easy to encourage and support others, but fail to offer constructive criticism when it’s needed – which leaves people stuck. People can’t grow if they don’t know where they need to improve. Somehow we get the idea that telling people hard things isn’t loving. Wrong.
But when we put truth together with love we have a very powerful combination at our disposal. Lord, give us grace to wisely utilize both truth and love for the sake of others, to build up the body of Christ. Amen.