Grow Up: Speaking the Truth in Love, Part 5
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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. 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. 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. 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.
In yesterday's reflection, we began to consider what it means to speak the truth in love. This is not a matter of perpetual niceness. It doesn't mean never saying anything that might unsettle someone. Rather, speaking the truth in love means extending to others the grace of God given to us in Christ. It means speaking, not for our own benefit, but in order to serve others and their benefit.
If you're looking for more specific guidance about how to speak the truth in love, let me point you to the so-called "Love Chapter," 1 Corinthians 13. Here we read, "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. . .Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
As you can see, the idea of speaking the truth in love wasn't a new one to Paul when he wrote Ephesians, some years after penning 1 Corinthians. In fact, the essential connection between speaking and loving can be found at several places in the New Testament (see, for example, 1 John 3:18).
If we pay close attention to 1 Corinthians 13, we'll learn what it means, in practice, to speak the truth in love. Today's questions for reflection will invite you to consider the implications of this passage for your speech.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
Do you speak the truth in love? Do you speak patiently? Do you speak kindly? Do you speak because you want what others have? Do you speak so as to promote yourself? Do you speak out of a sense of your own importance? Do you speak in a way that makes others look bad? Do you speak so that others will think you're something special? Do you speak harshly when you are angry? Do you often say things in anger that you later regret? Do you speak so as to bring up old offenses? Do you speak in a way that draws attention to evil? Do you speak so that people will focus on what is true? Do you speak in order to protect the truth and the dignity of others? Do you speak in a way that conveys your trust in God? Do you speak hopefully? Do you speak truly even when you are tired? Does this list of questions make you realize just how far you have to go in the matter of speaking the truth in love?
PRAYER: O Lord, my answer to that last question is "Yes. Yes, indeed." I can think I'm doing well when it comes to speaking the truth in love, but then I begin to reflect on 1 Corinthians 13 and I realize how much my speech is anything other than loving. Forgive me, Lord, for all the times I speak out of pride and selfish anger. Forgive me when I speak with cynicism or in a way that puts others down.
Help me, Lord, by your Word and Spirit, to speak the truth in love, real love, active love, Christ-like love. And may I do so for your glory! Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.