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