Speaking the Truth in Love
Many of us are afraid to tell others the truth for fear of the repercussions. We don’t want to make waves. We don’t want to hurt their feelings. We don’t want a backlash of anger thrust upon us. Interestingly, as I am reading through the gospel of Luke during this season, I never see Jesus holding back in fear. Did others react to His honesty? Sometimes. In fact, in Luke 4:28-30, the people were so furious because of His teaching that they planned to throw Him down a cliff!
None of us wants to put ourselves in harm’s way. When is it right to speak out the truth and when should we keep it to ourselves? You can confidently confront or share something with another if you have been praying about it and sense that the Lord is leading you to do this. Even more, you should talk to the person if others confirm that it is the right thing to do. Remember though, timing is important. Seek the Lord for the right moment and let the Spirit lead you.
If the person’s actions are hurting others or you in ways that are damaging to your soul, it is best to honestly share with them how their words or actions are impacting you – unless this could result in a dangerously abusive response. I have a podcast on His Heartbeat discussing conflict resolution. You may want to check it out. Depending on the situation, you may want another person with you, or at least get coaching on how to confront the person. Spend time praying beforehand for the Lord to give you guidance and protection. Jesus did not fear speaking the truth in love because He knew His Father would protect Him and He was following the Father’s will.
It's important to wait to confront another until you have allowed the Lord to calm your own heart. Harsh words only ignite rage. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Sharing how you feel and inviting the other to help you understand why they are frustrated or acting in certain ways toward you is helpful. This attitude communicates to the person that you really want to understand their struggles as well.
Ephesians 4:29 exhorts us to only share what will benefit those who are listening. This brings up my last point . . . check the motives of your heart. Why are you not being honest with the person? Why do you want to confront them? When your heart motives are right with the Lord, you will be in a place to speak truthfully to others. As you speak to them, be mindful of the Spirit’s leading and be prayerful throughout the conversation. The apostle Paul tells us the attitude we should have when conversing with another. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).