Motivation key when speaking truth in love

We’ve been discovering ways to honor God’s command to tell the truth (see Exodus 20:15). We began with the challenge to tell the truth completely and consistently.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “We will lovingly follow the truth at all times — speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly — and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:15 TLB).

Honesty, for a Christian, is to be a lifestyle. Our character must be consistent if we are to be like Christ.

Proverbs 11:3 tells us, “A good man is guided by his honesty. The evil man is destroyed by his dishonesty.” Dishonesty destroys. We all know that is true. Lying sabotages success. Lying damages character. It destroys relationships.

Healthy relationships are built on trust. Truth-telling is trust building, but deception destroys trust. Dishonesty destroys relationships. “An unreliable messenger can cause a lot of trouble. Reliable communication permits progress.” (Proverbs 13:17 TLB)

If both parties in a relationship say they want things to be better and they’re not making any progress, someone is probably not telling the truth because reliable communication permits progress. When you tell the truth consistently and you keep working at it, you will make progress.

It also is important to realize that being honest doesn’t mean being nasty. In Ephesians 4:15, we are challenged to speak the truth in a spirit of love. Be careful never to use the truth as a club with which to beat people over the head.

Think of somebody you would like to help change. If you want to help somebody change, you’ve got to remember that people change easier and faster when you speak the truth lovingly. They will perceive truth without love as an attack.

People tend to resist truth if it is not spoken in love. It doesn’t matter if you are speaking the truth or not, they will become defensive and won’t want to hear what you have to say if they perceive they are being attacked. And that’s typically how it feels when the truth is not spoken in love.

The way to know if you’re speaking the truth in love is to consider your motivation. Who will benefit from what you say? Are you trying to change them so things will be easier for you? Or do your words reveal a genuine love and concern for the other person? Do you sincerely desire for them to be the best they can be?

You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at steve@gotothepoint.com.