Speaking the Truth

Ephesians 4:25 “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Well, this verse is easy. Of course we should tell the truth. Of course we shouldn’t lie. It is one of the first things we learn, as children. Unfortunately, the acceptance of this truth is often easier than the application of this truth.

Just a few verses earlier (v. 15), Paul told us to speak the truth in love, for this is the only way that we will grow to be mature Christians. But we must always remember there are two parts to this process: a) speaking the truth, and b) speaking in love. We can’t speak the truth without love, or we will hurt and offend others. And we can’t be so “loving” and compassionate that the other person doesn’t hear the real truth.

There are some truths that don’t need to be spoken at all, for they will do nothing to build others up. For example, if I have a brand new dress, and you think the color is horrid on me, you really don’t need to tell me that. It will hurt my feelings and cause a rift in our friendship. But if you feel the dress is inappropriate or immodest, then you should seek a private way to lovingly, kindly tell me your concerns. Perhaps I haven’t really seen the view of the dress from all angles, or perhaps I simply haven’t learned the standards of modest dressing. By hearing your concerns spoken in a loving, gentle way, I may avoid making the same mistake in the future.

What if I have slipped into a nasty habit of gossip and slander? You may not feel comfortable discussing the issue with me. After all, you don’t want to make me angry with you. So instead, you just listen to my gossip. You roll your eyes when I leave the room, because my incessant slander is getting on your nerves. Eventually, you tell others, “Don’t listen to her. She gossips about everyone.” But still, to my face, you pretend that nothing is wrong. Eventually, we will both feel the strain, and our friendship will suffer. I will perhaps never know what I did to cause the strain. I will continue to gossip, you will continue to avoid me, and neither of us will benefit.

Friends, by speaking the truth to each other in a loving, gentle, compassionate way, we will build each other up. We will grow stronger as individuals, and the body of Christ will benefit. The truth, apart from love, is often harsh, and tears people down. Love, apart from the truth, gives a false impression of reality, and that is never for the best. But the truth, spoken in love, is beneficial to all.

Dear Father, Please give me the courage to speak the truth in love to those around me. And please help me to be humble and receptive when others need to do the same for me.


For more on this topic, read Vonda Skelton’s book, Seeing Through the Lies.

12 Responses to Speaking the Truth

  1. April 2, 2008 #

    How true this is and yet often difficult to carry out in everyday life. Thanks for writing so clearly about this and encouraging me to be more vigilant in watching what I say and how I say it.

  2. April 2, 2008 #

    Hi Jeannette! This is difficult for everyone, I think. I am reminded of James 3:2, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man . . .” – but there was only one perfect Man!

    Great to see you here!


  3. April 3, 2008 #

    Dear Renae,
    thank you for visiting.
    I’ve browsed in both your blogs with great interest.
    I like your humor, your thing for coffee, but most of all the depth of your spiritual blog.
    It made me think, consider aspects of my own life and behavior.
    Guess I have been of that kind who would throw the truth after people, like it or not. The years have hopefully mellowed me, but my toes still curl and my face flush when I have to tell a white lie.
    Obviously I will never tell “truths” to do some harm.
    I also avoid telling my Mom that she had had multiple small brain thromboses previous to her big stroke.
    No need to add more anxiety to the fact she already knew about her recent stroke.
    Sometimes I ask myself what would I like to know from all the “truths” that could be told about and to me.
    Guess I don’t feel the urge to hear gossip that will only hurt.
    However I would like to know if there are things that I can alter positive direction. Be it unfitting hair style or unpleasant behavior.
    Truth spoken in love.
    A wise word and good path guidance.
    From Felisol

  4. April 3, 2008 #

    Dear Felisol, Thank you for visiting, and for your thought-provoking comment. There are three questions I ask myself before speaking, whether to someone or about someone: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it kind? 3) Is it necessary? Most things spoken about other people, but not to them, is not necessary and could be considered gossip. But when speaking to people, we have to remember that if it is not going to build them up in some way, or if it is possibly only an opinion that could hurt them, we have to be careful. It’s tough isn’t it?

    As far as my opinions on hairstyles, fashion, etc., I usually keep my mouth shut unless asked, and then I am as kind as possible while speaking my honest opinion.

    I hope your mom is doing better. Blessings to you, and I hope to see you again!


  5. April 3, 2008 #

    Truth in love. Hard to wrap those two together and make them attractive. But ultimately I know that is the challenge and with God, we can find success.

    Thanks for stopping in. I’m running tight on a deadline and should be writing, not reading emails and blogs.


  6. April 3, 2008 #

    Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany! Praying you meet your deadline! 🙂


  7. April 3, 2008 #

    Wow, I could preach a sermon on this one!
    How I’ve learned the hard way!!!
    As a younger woman, I truly entered places angels would fear to tread, all in my quest for honesty and telling it like it is.
    I have learned as I matured to keep my mouth shut, most of the time.
    On the other hand, I have also learned to obey the Holy Spirit and confront someone close to me in truth and love.
    In the right spirit of waiting on Him for the perfect timing and words, it always works for the good – without fail.
    I only wish people would confront me more often, but it seems so many of my friends are not confronters, like me.
    I want to be sharpened. I have asked for this.
    Sometimes it is still hard for them.
    The art of confrontation, God’s way, can truly change this world, starting with our own close relationships.
    I pray for the Body of Christ to learn and practice this art.
    It is so needed.

  8. April 3, 2008 #

    You are so wise, Judi. You brought up an important point about confronting those close to us. Sometimes, we just need to keep our mouths shut if we haven’t earned the right to confront that person, even lovingly. Speaking “the truth” to someone we barely know will more than likely just build walls. Of course, we have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, but we have to be careful that the person knows we love them. That’s not possible if they barely know us.

    As always, great to see you!


  9. April 3, 2008 #

    As a pastor’s wife, I see the devastating effects of gossip and struggle with whether confrontation would make the problem worse. (Gossip is my soap box issue that once you get me started talking about it I won’t stop!!) I am so thankful for prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit in these situations. Even when I don’t know what to do, He does!!

    By the way, I like your dress!! 🙂

  10. April 3, 2008 #

    Thanks, Robyn! (You made me laugh with that last line!)

    You and me both, sister. I think as pastor’s wives, we see this (and are victims of it) a lot! Maybe we should talk sometime . . .

    You are right. The Holy Spirit, if we listen, will help us know when to speak and when to bite our tongues!


  11. April 3, 2008 #

    I think maybe this one only comes with ‘the grey hairs of wisdom’! It’s definitely a tough one!

  12. April 3, 2008 #

    You’re right, Jackie.

    And thank the Lord for Miss Clairol! 🙂


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