“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
~Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV).
There are times when we really must ask ourselves what the price of the truth is, especially when we consider Paul’s imperative here for the body of Christ to speak the truth in love.
What point is there holding to and exhorting to the truth when we’re left upsetting people left, right and centre? I feel certain there are some believers who are so ‘full’ of (their own) truth, which they believe in their heart of hearts to be true, yet forget the message of grace; the loving of all people, even our enemies.
And this is where the truth is generally fixed: in the specificity of our communication.
I find people who lack the balance of grace in their expression of truth do not actually attend to the specific issues that upset them. In their anger they forget to address the issues, gunning down the person instead. They tend to rant about random issues, never getting to the point; it’s an intellectual problem they have, probably caused by unreconciled hurt in them, deep down and buried within. (It’s a prideful hurt, not the hurt that reasonable people have who are honestly trying to deal with it.) The hurt is a block to them being able to reason intellectually. And this hurt cannot be absolved in them until they themselves recognise it and begin dealing with it. In the meantime their flaming arrows of ‘truth’ are shot forth with force at their own vagrant will (and certainly not God’s).
The moment that people have problems with us and begin to address these problems with specifics i.e. in a reasoned argument, is the time when we can sit respectfully together and come to a form of collective truth. This is an understanding shared by two parties, or at worst, the agreement to disagree. Both outcomes remove the element of aggression which speaks fundamentally of fear, not love.
As Christians we’re commanded to love God and love others. Jesus himself said it wasn’t much more complicated than this. Forgoing the selective righteous indignation of the Lord, we must love everyone we come across. And even in indignation it’s love; it’s tough love. It’s fine to speak our truth, which must align with the Spirit’s truth, but we must regulate the truth to grace i.e. love.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.