Monday, October 8, 2012

Speak the truth in love.

The truth hurts. Boy, don’t we know it! Think back to a time when someone bluntly pointed out some flaw in us or some deficiency in our work.  How did it make us feel? It really hurt, didn’t it? You may have tried to defend yourself, even if the accusation was true. Human nature is always ready to fight back, perhaps with something equally hurtful.
These kind of verbal exchanges are unlikely to produce anything worthwhile – quite the opposite! They usually damage or even destroy relationships. It is certainly not the kind of love that Jesus wants to see among his followers.
When it is time to speak, we dare not speak less than the truth. However, we don’t want to use the truth as a hammer. Christians want to speak the truth in love as Ephesians 4:15 reminds us, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is the Christ.”
Among Christians the truth must be a commodity regularly traded, even when it results in confrontation. For many confrontation is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and to be avoided at all costs. Confrontation can feel like applying antiseptic to an open wound. It may sting, yet it is better than leaving the wound alone and letting it get infected.
Yet, Christian confrontation must start and end with love. You cannot lovingly confront someone if you have a chip on your shoulder or if you expect the worst. Loving confrontation is not nagging. Instead, it states the issue of concern and seeks to deal with it in a timely manner.
There is no surer way of turning a discussion into a fight than to start off by accusing the other person. A far better approach is to use “I” language. When using “I” language, I am expressing how something makes me feel. If I use “You” language, the other person immediately becomes defensive.
Communicate the truth in love. Remember our spouse, our children, or our fellow Christians are our friends not our enemies.
One way to help remember this is to focus on the behavior of the person rather than the person’s character or self. Since we can’t read each other’s heart, concentrate on the facts rather than the motive. Few things are as hazardous as jumping to conclusions about what a person thinks or feels.
We want to understand each other, so it is important to speak clearly and listen patiently and carefully. To resolve the matter, we always want to turn to the Scriptures for guidance and seek God’s help in prayer.