but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ
There is a dynamic I see being played out in the comments section of Christian blogs everywhere. God has called all of us to, ‘speak the truth in love’, but that seems to be the exception more than the rule.
More than two years ago a serious conflict began with one of my oldest and dearest Christian friends. After months of everyone trying to work things out earnestly, things took a turn for the worse and it was time to abandon the relationship. I wrote to him to say goodbye, and included one of my observations on this dynamic that was preventing the conflict from being healed biblically.
I would like to share part of that letter to him, as it ‘confesses’ my own predilection for sin, explores his and challenges all of us to examine ourselves.
“…From the outset of this [conflict] I have known that if I was going to fall into sin, my predisposition would be to ‘speak the truth in anger’. I have worked hard to keep that from happening and confessed it when it did…
You on the other hand have, and continue to, ‘lie in love’. You believe and speak things that are not true, your decisions on how to handle these problems do not line up with scripture…, but you seem to believe that as long as you have a “good heart” none of that matters. It matters. It is having devastating consequences…”
This seems to be a good analogy (albeit an oversimplification) for what is happening in the hostile discussions taking place between reformed or discernment proponents that are very concerned with presenting God’s unadulterated Truth (of which I am one) and emergents that are very concerned that love be the focus of the church.
But bottom line, when we speak and do not balance the two, we sin. And if we want to keep from falling into sin, we need to know where our weaknesses are so that when we can recognize our flesh when it pops up to take over, confess the sin quickly and get back on the road that God would have us on.
Some of us tend toward lying in love, because we really, truly want to believe the best, even when the evidence is to the contrary, and really want God’s Kingdom to be as inclusive as we can make it. We really, really want the visible church to be God’s Kingdom on earth. But stretching the Word of God beyond that which the text will logically allow, is sin. It is adding to and taking away from scripture. Even when we do it with the best of intentions, it is still making The True God into a golden calf who will be the god that you want him to be. It is sin.
Some of us have become so concerned with getting things correct and defending the true faith, that we loose sight of God’s command to balance our truth with love. We fall into the trap of becoming noisy gongs or a clanging cymbals. We keenly see the danger in the assumption that the visible church, not the invisible church, is God’s Kingdom and are very serious about warning those who think that, because they prayed a prayer once, they are going to heaven. In warning of those dangers we can offer harsh rebuke in cases where the bible does not set a precedent for it.
A few of us, in our relative youth and immaturity, vacillate back and forth between the two.
And there is one person in my life that is able to balance the two when she speaks, and when she has spoken into a conflict, brings the tension in the room from a fever pitch down to safe vulnerability, but she does not speak. Fear of fighting has driven her to retreat from the conflicts in which she could have been a stabilizing force.
We can also change from one extreme to the other in our lives. Where I had spent the first few decades of my life as one who would tend to lie in love, becoming the mother of an autistic child, and then seeing that child get the shaft (even at the hands of professing Christians), drove me from one camp into the other, and since April of 2006, I can say with out hesitation that my tendency now when I sin in this area, it is to speak the truth in anger.
But there is hope for all of us. If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, and if the Holy Spirit is in us, we can be brought back to the place that we can deal with terribly difficult truths even when our flesh wants to run screaming into denial or defensiveness; and we can be humble and loving and considering others more important than ourselves when dishing out the hard truth, choosing words that provide edification according to the need of the moment.
I know that because last week, all three of us, the woman who was afraid to speak, the man who had such a hard time with the hard truth, and me, the angry autism mom, after two years of God working on us, were able to step outside of our flesh and into the Spirit and do those things which God called us to do.
And in our obedience, God healed the relationships that had been broken for years.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away… blessed be the name of the Lord!
So here is my question for my commenters, where are you in this picture? When you sin, do you speak the truth in anger like me? Do you lie in love? Or do you fail to speak at all?
Update: Sadly the aforementioned friend was not able to follow through on his attempt to deal truthfully, no repentance of sin followed and the reconciliation fell apart.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away… blessed by the name of the Lord.