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Speaking The Truth In Love

Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean that you will never offend and it isn’t a reference in regard to one’s “tone”.  It is a reference to one’s heart.

The verses before and after Ephesians 4:5 provide the context. “Speaking the truth in love” is referencing a sincere love for God and His Truth; and that is what drives our desire and love to lead others to truth.

Much like when Paul says “let your speech alway be with grace seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6), It is more about the speakers heart and ensuring that his words are from a place of divine influence, obedience, and truth. Salt preserves, salt  tastes good, but it also stings on a wound.

Christ rebuked whole cities and He was still long suffering. He turned over the tables in the temple and drove men out with a whip but He was still the kind and gentle Shepherd. When God chastises His children, He is still merciful and loving. When He pours out judgement and wrath upon the wicked He is still merciful and loving. One attribute doesn’t negate the other. A parent who sternly disciplines their child is still speaking the truth in love.

When Paul told Timothy to rebuke those that sin before all so others may fear it was out of love. When Paul told Titus to rebuke sharply and stop the mouths of deceivers it was out of love. A love for what? God and His Word.  That type of love only comes from God and that type of love drives one to love others enough to give them the truth. You can say you have the faith to move mountains but unless you have the love that is born from above you have nothing. You can say you love your neighbor but if that love doesn’t burn for Christ in Spirit and truth you have nothing.

I’m not for sure how it happened but some how preachers and Christians have decided to become nicer than God. They’ve elevated tone above truth and trade the Gospel, the  “Rock of offence” (Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:8, Isaiah 8:14) for a diluted gospel that never offends.

A gospel that doesn’t cut is no gospel at all.

Now does “tone” have its place? Of course it does. But same Jesus who said “Come unto me all ye that labour and of heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) also said  “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”

‭‭(Revelation‬ ‭2:16‬ ‭)

Are there times where we need to use a softer tone? Absolutely. We can see this throughout the Gospels and the epistles. We see this in parenting, in friendships, and even in the workplace. Especially if your in management. But there is a balance and it’s as the Lord leads. In Jude we read  “And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude‬ ‭1:22-23‬).

We must stop allowing the winsome pragmatics and progressives of the day from interpreting scripture through a modernistic, seeker sensitive, powerless, and neutered worldview. As a friend of mine and I were discussing the other day we must not elevate empathy above scripture and I’ll add we definitely should not let the culture define Christianity nor the ministry. Every shepherd has a rod and a staff and knows when and how to use them. Jesus the Good Shepherd definitely knew when to be stern and when to bring comfort. He wasn’t winsome nor was loved by all. But he always spoke the truth in love. As should we.

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:11-16‬

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭

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