Today, few people speak directly to other people with directness. We beat around the bush, We avoid speaking truth at all. We conjure up false stories that aren't the truth in order to make the delivery of the message more soothing to the hearer. God is not that way. God is truth and God speaks only truth. The good news is that God is love and God only speaks the truth in love.
That doesn't mean that you and I enjoy hearing the truth when it's spoken, nor do we like speaking the truth when it needs to be spoken. Today, more than ever I believe, the church could use the ability to speak truth and speak it like God, in love... to each other, to the world, to their families, and to themselves. It's time for a skin-thickening dose of truth that stirs us to a more peaceful state.
Removing truthful words only stirs chaos. The removal of the truth is an exaltation of the lie. Where there is no truth (God) there is only exaltation of the lie (Satan). Which do you prefer to exalt? We are all well aware of situations where we have been afraid of hearing or speaking the truth. The truth eats at us inside creating a stirring of emotions and imaginations. The devil is right there to lead us to believe that speaking the truth will have horrible consequences. Scenarios begin to play out in our minds like giant movie screens where people erupt, disown, hate, hurl insults, harm, and the like. Since we like a good movie, we resist the truth. We relent from it and return to either silence or a lie. The conversation goes on inside our head, but it never comes out.
God wants us to be at peace and will stir the truth in us until it creates peace. Sometimes the truth hurts because we have become numb to directness. Until we stop fearing directness and learn to handle one another with both truth and grace, we will never mature as Christians. All of this requires balance. You must be as willing to hear the truth as you are to speak it, and you must be as willing to love someone in the midst of the truth as much as you desire love from the one delivering it to you.
But we will never achieve interpersonal truthfulness if we can't accept God's truthfulness. To the degree we accept truth from God will reflect the degree to which we can accept one another. Paul instructed the Romans in this way:
Romans 15:1-7 NKJV We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (2) Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME." (4) For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (5) Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, (6) that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (7) Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
Bear with the weak ... please the neighbor ... be likeminded. None of these statements imply dysfunction. To bear with one another is not to give in to their abuses. After all, it is mutual good and edification we're after. Good and edification require the stirring of the truth to bring us to a place of peace. Stirring toward peace is God's way. Stirring toward peace should be our way.
Don't fear the offense that may be caused by the truth. Rather, fear the sin that is caused by the lack of the truth.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.