On a church marquee the exclusive nature of Jesus was announced by quoting John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but through Me.’” It only took a couple of days until the church answering machine picked up a call from a man down the street who said he was offended by the message on the sign out front. The message said Jesus was the only way to salvation. Peter said long ago, “Jesus Christ, the Nazarene…whom God raised from the dead…there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). I guess the caller did not want to hear the truth.
It seems more and more people are questioning the Bible and the truth about Jesus. Many just ignore Him and His words. But, in spite of the fact that so many are rejecting Jesus and His words, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) should be a vital concern to every Christian.
If we are concerned about others and their spiritual well-being, then we speak the truth in love. We show genuine love by speaking the truth. Both love and truth go together. Yes, we can speak the truth, but without a humble concern for others we can become harsh and tactless.
From Ephesians 4:15, we see two things that make a definite impact on others. Both what we say and how we say it are important. Paul warned the Ephesians about being tossed here and there by every new teaching that comes along and to be careful about every new trick designed to deceive them and get them off track (Eph. 4:14).
The first word is truth. We live in a world in which some people are just concerned with what they think or feel. Absolute right, wrong, and truth have become politically incorrect. It is sad that many do not have a love for truth and salvation (2 Thess. 2:10b). Yet, of course there are still “truth seekers.” Showing genuine love and concern by being gentle and patient will open many doors of opportunity to speak the truth. God’s Word is the truth that must be spoken (John 17:17). There is nothing more loving than teaching others about salvation in Jesus that frees us from sin (John 8:31-32). Charles Pugh, in his book “Doctrine and The Do In It” (2004, p..31-32) wrote: “The theme of the Bible is the redemption of man to the glory of God through Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Bible is salvation. Paul wrote, “The Holy Scriptures…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).” You cannot have real love without the truth of God’s Word. Truth makes a strong Christian. Truth makes a strong church. Willing to speak the truth shows love.
The next word is love. Love will speak the truth in a kind manner because “love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous: love does not brag and is not arrogant” (1 Cor. 13:4). You see, in order for truth to be received, the manner in which it is delivered is important too. In Ephesians 4:15 Paul gives us the “how” in speaking the truth. A humble and gentle spirit in our communication of truth keeps relationships alive. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
I might say this too. There are times when we demonstrate love by our silence. Charles Pugh (Doctrine and The Do In It, 2004, p.89-90) makes this statement: “…I have wondered what might happen if, in the church, when we were about to say something that was not going to be good for edification (cf.Eph.4:28), we would tell ourselves, “Don’t say it!” Biblical wisdom reveals that “there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccl.3:7). It takes much thought and prayer to learn to discipline oneself to “don’t say it.”
“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love for the others for whom Jesus died is certainly demonstrated by our “speaking the truth in love” and at other times by our silence.
Rob serves as a member of the board of directors of the Carolina Messenger.