Speaking the Truth in Love is Not…
I always tell people who ask me what I think “Do you really want to know? Because I will tell you if you really want to know…” And then I do not hesitate to speak the truth if I am asked.
Very rarely is it the time to speak without being asked.
Yes, if I see one of my friends or family in trouble, I’ll say something…when the time is right. But usually if you have the right relationship, it isn’t going to be that awkward to talk about life.
Christians like to throw around the phrase “speaking the truth in love” from Ephesians 4 (which is pretty much taken out of context anyway)…when it seems that a majority of the time it really means that “I’m qualifying my lashing out or attacking or attempt to control, and it is now justified because I’m doing it out of ‘love’”.
Most of us have probably experienced this in one way or another.
But what does that really look like to “speak the truth in love”???
I think that does sometimes depend on the situation—whether it’s confrontation or helping someone give up an addiction or something else.
But here is what I would say Speaking the Truth in Love is NOT.
- Facebook Posts, Tweets, etc. – I see this ALL THE TIME (which means you probably do, too)—whether it’s a vague allusion, a direct assault, ridiculous song lyrics, or a scripture. I’m not saying that posting scriptures that minister to you is wrong. However, posting those that are a jab so that people who know the situation and agree with you can reply “AMEN!” is not truth in love. It may be truth—out of context, out of anger, or out of fear. But it isn’t out of love. If you love someone, you’ll keep it off of social media.
- Rhetorical Questions– Things like “Don’t you know that a-b-c is so selfish/wrong/sinful/etc.”? or “Why don’t you just….” That doesn’t accomplish anything but makes someone defensive and absolutely blocked off to any “suggestion” you are trying to make, even if it is “truth”.
- Anonymous Words– by whatever means. But if you won’t sign your name to it, no one will give it any credibility; and ultimately, it just means you don’t have the courage to stand by what you think.
- “You should” or “You shouldn’t”—Unless someone has asked you or you have established trust with someone that allows you to speak so openly, there are very few times that it is appropriate to give someone directive advice.
- A Broken Record– If you did tell someone something about their actions, attitude, etc., they heard you the first time.
- “Always” or “Never”– No one “Always” or “Never”…so just don’t sound like an idiot.
- Telling Someone what they Are or Are Not– You are incapable of determining anyone’s heart, intentions, or identity for them. Don’t pretend like you can.
Bonus—one thing to keep in mind if you are trying to speak the truth in love…
HALT– I am totally stealing this from a book by Jeanne Mayo where she says never to make a decision if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. It’s the same thing when you are speaking anything past the weather with someone. Don’t make relationship/life-altering statements when you are in one of these states. Very rarely is love your motivation.
I didn’t spend much time explaining or giving examples…and this definitely isn’t a complete list.
What is missing?
And how do you handle someone who speaks to you in one of these manners?