Amid Paul’s longest sentence found in Ephesians chapter four is the admonition to “Speak the Truth in Love.” It’s a whole lot easier to read this or memorize these words then it is to live it.
I am convinced most people speak what is right to them. It may not be the whole truth, but yes, it is their version of reality. During a conflict, fuel is added to the fire, when a respondent to a statement says, “That’s not true,” or, “That’s a lie from the pit of …”
Expressing truth alone is not enough. Paul said truth must be coupled with love. Truth can kill, or it can bring life.
The determinate factor is how truth is delivered. But it goes beyond that. The way truth is received many times is based upon the perception of its delivery. And, each individual has an opinion that differs from others. Sometimes minutely, sometimes magnificently.
“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22). Paul was not expecting everyone else to adapt to him; instead, he made an effort to adjust to them.
Paul’s methods changed with each person. Truth is constant, but love adapts. Truth does not change, but the way we present truth must be flexible based on each individual.
Love is not a feeling. Love is action. The good feeling we get comes as a result of an action. Therefore, while speaking the truth we must be mindful of the way we deliver truth.
When it comes to relationships, speaking the truth in love is a prerequisite to resolving conflict. Most couples prefer to avoid conflict because they end up feeling worse, and they don’t like the outcome. If the conflict didn’t start with a fight, it generally ends with one.
When speaking the truth, pay attention to other factors, such as:
• What are your eyes doing? Are they rolling? Are they glaring? Are they hard or soft?
• Are your lips pursed?
• Are your hands balled up in a fist?
• Are you uptight, tense, and ready to pounce?
Not to overdo it, but since I have reference Paul several times, let me do it once more. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:32, we are in control of our own spirit.
When in conflict, it is best to portray our truth with a calm spirit. Although doing so is difficult, it is certainly not impossible. Extend some mercy and grace. Look at those you are speaking to through the ‘eyes of Christ.’
Speak the truth in love? Absolutely! But, since you are on a roll, I suggest you don’t stop there. Listen to the truth in love also.
Impossible? Listen to these words as I quote Paul one last time. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
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