Have you ever had to speak the truth to someone in love? You know what I'm talking about, the manner in which we are directed to live and to speak to others by God in the New Testament, "15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 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)
This verse is beautiful, part of a chapter in the Bible that give us explicit directions on how to walk as Christians, and also provides a vivid illustration of what it would look like for us if we chose to follow these directions and truly connect as one body under the head, Jesus Christ. Let's look at what comes before the "instead" that starts in verse 15, because otherwise, it can be difficult (at least for me) to fully grasp what these directions mean (italics added):
" 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 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."
We are told that Christ gave us the equipment to be built up until we all reach unity and become mature. Until we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Those are some strong, strong words. By no means do I consider myself a teacher when it comes to God's Word or how to interpret or understand it. But I do try to meditate on His Word, and find the meaningful throughout the verses. And today, I am thinking about what it means to speak the truth in love . . . what it takes to do so, how difficult or easy it can be, how we feel about it and the repercussions (as we are still part human even as we are spirits), etc.
I will tell you in utter honesty, that I've had more opportunities to practice speaking the truth in love to several people in my own life in the past couple of years than I think I ever had, collectively, in my entire life before those years. While I am the first to say I have often made grave mistakes in relationships and in how I've spoken or acted or reacted, I want to also say, there have been times I am thankful that I've chosen to speak the truth in love. But I would not be speaking truth to you, friends, if I told you that speaking the truth in love is a walk in the park or a piece of cake. In fact, it takes almost a painful amount of effort and focus, because at least in my experience, the times when I had the opportunity to do so were the times when I was already facing frustration with another person. When I was angry or hurt or just plain upset and everything in me was screaming to lash out, to retaliate, or at the very least, to defend myself verbally. I confess, I am not always soft and kind in my responses. I do think I've matured some in the past several years, thank God. But in reflection, I see that regardless of the sweat beading on my proverbial forehead when I strive to speak the truth in love, all the pain I feel in choosing the right way is nothing compared to the regret and self-condemnation I feel when I choose the wrong way, instead. Does this make sense?
I had to make a choice again, today. And yes, it was difficult. Yes, speaking the truth but speaking it in love is not as easy as just bluntly speaking the "obvious." However, I will tell you something; when I chose today to speak the truth in love toward others, there was a peace that settled over me like a cloud. I truly believe it's the peace that passes understanding, the peace Jesus gave us when we chose Him and His way of doing things, " And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7) I struggled with myself and my natural, carnal desire to see the wrongs made right, to see what I would consider justice be carried out, to have my way and my say. And it's entirely possible there was still too much of "me" in my response. Yet I know that, overall, I chose to speak the truth and I spoke it in love. And I felt the peace of God come over me and wrap me up in His arms, like a loving father would a scared, uncertain and feeble child. There is no comparison, friends. Nothing can compare to walking in God's love and being upheld and surrounded by His Peace.
Here's praying and hoping that you find the strength in God to choose to speak the truth in love; that you find for yourself what a reward of peace and contentment choosing to obey Him in this one, seemingly small area can bring! Have a lovely Sunday!