Years ago, I used to work at a grocery store meat department not too far from where I lived.
My role was known as a "meat wrapper." As you might have guessed, that means that I wrapped the cuts of meat that the butcher in the department gave me to sell.
The butchers in the department were older guys from all different walks of life. They each seemed to have numerous political and theological opinions that they would chat about throughout the day.
For me, it was always awkward getting pulled into one of these conversations, because I knew my perspectives would shake up the conversation. But inevitably, one of the guys would ask me my opinion on topics of religion, faith, or politics.
Usually, I was a very silent worker, I'm not one to chat while there's work to be done, but these guys had been in the industry for decades and mastered the art of a well passed day.
In instances like these, one phrase taken from the Bible would ring in my head as I gave my perspective.
"Speak the Truth in Love"
Today, I want to unpack that biblical concept.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-15. ESV)
As Christians, we are called by Jesus to speak the Truth in love. Not only is this a daunting task, but it is often an overlooked one. In my experience, there is a tendency among Christians to fall into one of two ditches in regards to speaking the Truth in love.
What I mean by a ditch is: when we as Christians have an unbalanced and inconsistent view of biblical Truth, we fall into a ditch.
One of the most common instances of Christians falling into a ditch occurs when too much emphasis is put on love at the expense of Truth. When the biblical definition of love is applied correctly, being loving will never be at odds with speaking the Truth.
But all too often, the biblical definition of love is neglected and replaced with a secular meaning. I'm not asserting that love shouldn't be an integral part of our lives, on the contrary.
The Bible commands us to love one another (see 1 Peter 4:8)
and to bear with one another in love (see Ephesians 4:2), but the trouble starts when, in our quest to love one another, we disregard the Truth.
When, in fact, the Bible states that we show our love by speaking the Truth (see 1 John 3:18). Often Christians will hold back the Truth with the excuse that Jesus said not to judge. The passage of scripture being referred to is found in Matthew 7:1-3.
If you take into account the full context of this passage, which we as Christians ought to do, you'll then discover that Jesus is not making a blanket statement that we should never judge, but He says that the standard we judge by will be the same standard we are judged.
Judge with righteous judgment and speak the Truth because biblical love cannot stay silent. I encourage you to love one another as God commands us, but in doing that, do not disregard the Truth. Otherwise, you'll fall into the first ditch.
The second ditch that I want to address is the idea that all you need is the Truth.
Once again, I am not suggesting that Truth is not essential; without Truth, we are not capable of truly loving someone. The Bible continually refers to the importance of Truth (see John 17:17) and the necessity to not only love in what we say but also in our actions and Truth (see 1 John 3:18).
If you're anything like me, you put enormous weight on the necessity to speak and understand biblical Truth. However, sometimes, in our vigor for Truth, we become unbiblical in our approach and end up sounding like a clanging cymbal, this is when we fall into a ditch (1 Corinthians 13:1).
It's important to remember that we are all susceptible to fall into either one of these ditches. The extreme examples I gave probably don't reflect the way you approach these truths.
All of us, in one form or another, have natural inclinations to sway towards love at the expense of truth or toward Truth at the cost of love.
God has created a marvelous design in which these two things work in perfect harmony. I want to emphasis that a biblical view of the scripture is essential in the Christian worldview.
Without it, we can apply some scriptural truth that is in line with God-ordained tendencies and disregards realities that seem too daunting to use.
However, I would encourage you this week to identify the ditches into which you tend to fall. Seek the Lord through prayer and His word, that you may have a well-rounded approach to speaking the Truth in love in your daily life.
Thanks for reading!