Yesterday a friend of mine posted this verse on facebook, “Instead speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15). It is always a great reminder for me when people post Scripture verses. Especially ones I tend to forget and do the opposite. A pastor friend of mine says, “Truth without love is brutal. Love without truth is wishy-washy.” And it’s true. If all we do is love, and have no truth, it’s limp like a dishcloth. Easily swayed by any circumstance, feeling, or emotion. If all we are is truthful, and do not love, we are brutal. The saying “the truth hurts” is true, but couched in love the blows are softened.
Then last night on facebook I saw this picture:
I thought just how true that statement is. Truth does sound like hate to those who hate truth.
But what if your view of truth is a bit skewed? What if in your experience truth was used as a battering ram in your life? What if you only experienced truth as a bludgeoning tool? You don’t hate truth, you might very well cling to it, but you are not going to see it as a good thing. It will, or it can look a lot like hate.
“They hate me because they said that was wrong!”
No one wants to hear about the sin in their life. No one wants to know they screwed up again. No one. I don’t. You don’t. Is it the truth? You bet. But is it necessary to constantly point out the sin of those around us?
Now there are specific instances in Scripture where we are told not to associate with people who live a life characterized by sin. They habitually do it. And flaunt it. Their life is not characterized by a godly zeal, with lapses into sin. They are characterized by sin with occasional lapses into godly zeal. Those people we are to avoid.
Failing to be associated with someone based on their behavior can look a lot like hate. But it isn’t. At least it doesn’t have to be.
When my girls were small and whiny, I often told them if they wanted to choose to whine, they could not do it around me. If they wanted to choose to throw a screaming-Mimi fit, that was fine. But they weren’t allowed to do it around me. They would have to go to their room. And yes, at times that made the fit worse. And it worsened until I took their little arm and marched them into their bedroom.
Now that is a rather simple example, and maybe not all that practical, but did I hate my children because I choose not to associate with them? No! I loved them. Not their behavior.
(Let’s be PERFECTLY clear here, I am NOT talking about any one particular sin.)
If we are using truth only as a way to bludgeon someone, we are using it wrong. When that is all we are doing, we are not loving. We are hating. But if forge relationships, if we see friends we love fall in to sin, and choose to be silent, that isn’t love. If we care more about our not being hurt than we care about someone else’s soul, we are not loving.
Both truth and love have the other’s greater good in mind. If we willy-nilly spout off truth to everyone around us, those we know and love as well as those we don’t, that isn’t love either.
If we choose to lie to someone…that is neither truthful nor loving.
How can we walk in love today? How can we show people our love by our truth?