Truth or Consequences

What Happens When We Tell The Truth?

Telling the truth is fundamental. We are taught this principle as children and are expected to be truthful people in all aspects of our lives…right?

But what about when the truth we tell is hard to hear? What if we know that what needs to be said is going to hurt a little (or a lot) what then?

Do we just gloss over the truth and apply grace because we fear the response?

In a word, No.

Speaking the truth in love involves inherent risk.

Basically, there are three outcomes from speaking hard truth.

1. Fight – fight back, defensiveness, lashing out, accusations
2. Flight – terminate relationships as a means of managing hurt
3. Surrender – recognizing there may be some validity to what was said and trusting God to meet you in the midst of the hurt to work through it with the person

As Christians we often skirt around speaking the truth to one another regarding behaviors and attitudes, because we think that saying nothing and extending grace is being “Christ like”.

This is not always the case.

As children of the living God, we are to speak truthfully to one another so that we can grow and mature to live in the fullness of Christ, to glorify God and live as His reflection in this world.

Ephesians 4:15 reminds us how we are to conduct ourselves with regard to speaking the truth.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

Unfortunately, when we fail to speak the truth and address the issues and unhealthy patterns of behavior in others, we take the easy way out. By choosing silence, we allow the sin and unhealthy ways to persist and the body of Christ suffers.

Conversely when we approach telling the truth with condemnation and disapproval, we wound people. Too much truth without affirmation and acceptance leads to rejection and unnecessary hurt.

Speaking the truth in love requires balance and discernment.
If you’ve been around for a while, you have probably been on the receiving end of having a truth sandwich shoved down your throat.

I’ve choked down my fair share of truth sandwiches, from my personality to my parenting. Fortunately, I have also had the privilege of having a few people speak truth to me, in a manner that fostered growth, maturity and mutual respect in the relationship.

Recently, I found myself in the position of speaking the truth to someone. I did my best to be honest, affirming and direct. I prayed about what I would say, and how I would feel if I were receiving the same message.

I knew what I had to say could be difficult to hear and that hurt was a potential bi product. The intention of my heart was to help, not to inflict pain. And I knew there was no guarantee how this person would respond.

Unfortunately this person did not respond to what I had to say, they reacted. They chose to flee. There would be no opportunity for dialogue or attempts at reconciliation. This person chose to cut me off rather than discuss what had occurred.

This was a sad and unfortunate result, yet is a risk of speaking the truth.

Friends, we have a responsibility to tell the truth to one another and we have a responsibility in how we respond when we hear truth – even difficult truth.

We are the body of Christ. If we cannot speak truthfully to one another in order to build each other up and grow in maturity then we are handicapping the body and stunting its growth.

If you are going to speak the truth, do so gently, with humility and with respect.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of truth, take time to consider the persons words, their heart and ask the Lord to show you where you need to grow.

What has your experience been in speaking the truth in love? Did it go like you hoped? If not what would you do differently? Share your experience by leaving a comment below. Thanks!

Grace & Peace ~ Karen


7 thoughts on “Truth or Consequences

  1. Christi Manthey Marcotte says:

    Oh, Karen– so hard to walk the balance– too much “grace” enables unhealthy behavior and isn’t really grace at all.  Too much “truth” is really just a self-serving attempt to control.  We can only speak the truth in love effectively through the Holy Spirit.  “Effectively” can only be judged in our obedience, though, not necessarily in the response we receive.  You never know how God is working– He can restore the relationship based on a seed planted in obedience.  Thank you for this reminder!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Good words Christi…I love the way your phrased it. “self serving attempt to control” I know that God will do a good work in the person I had the tough conversation with. I continue to pray for that person…thanks!

  2. Liane says:

    Oh boy, what a topic for me. I’ve grown up with the idea modeled to me of “I say it like it is. That’s just who I am, no matter what it does for/to you.” It has hurt me many, many times. Did it help me? I’m not sure but by nature I have decided to never walk away from anything empty handed. It made me stronger, but maybe not in all good ways.

    Over time I realized though that you can be honest but it is HOW you are honest that makes the difference. That is what I’ve been wanting to learn but I’m still leaning on the ‘rather say nothing’ side.

    More recently I’ve been faced with situations that have challenged me to confront some things that have been a heavy burden to me for years. In one scenario I really believe that both the other person and I had a breakthrough and it felt like the world was off my shoulders. In the other scenario, however, the person invited me to be honest and then reacted by discussing it with others and finally replying to me by ending the relationship.

    I felt bad for it but in the same way I felt peace. I realize that I do not control other people’s response/reaction. So I prayed for them a while after and then decided to release it and move on.

    For me it is two fold: (1) learning to be more bold and less wormy in relationships; to be true to myself with less fear of rejection, and (2) continuing to grow in doing honesty with an attitude of love. When I’ve done all I can I feel ok with leaving the rest up to God. I just check with myself, “Have I done what I can?”

  3. R.A. Snyder says:

    I had that happen to me once. A friend had unnecessarily harsh words for a new church member, so I told her she should have shared the truth in love—and I shared it lovingly! But she felt like it was an attack on her character and our friendship was never the same again. *sigh* I’ve had to deal with people telling me the truth in love, and I stick around! Maybe it just depends on the personality.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Rachel, it’s funny how even when we do it “right” there is the element of choice. How the person chooses to respond determines the future of the relationship. I guess that is the hardest part for me. Just because I said something that was hard does not mean I want to end the relationship. I remain open to the possibility and trust God. Thanks for stopping by today!

  4. Greenteam619 says:

    Too often I take the easy way out and handicap the Body of Christ. You and I just had a conversation about how I don’t like to “rock the boat” because I don’t anticipate the person responding in a positive way. I feel there is no use sometimes. But, I need to learn to trust God with the results and speak the truth in love.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Yep, sometimes the path of least resistance is very appealing. It’s a lot less work, but in time the stink of rotten relationship patterns gets hard to ignore. God can and will show you how and when to speak the truth in love…stepping out of the boat is scary – you can do it!

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