Sometimes it can be tricky when we are trying to figure out how to speak to one another. Paul offers us this directive about how we should communicate: “But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). But how do we “speak the truth in love?” How do we balance these two tendencies in our speech?
Like goalposts, our words should align between these two goals: speaking the truth with the other person, and truly looking out for their well-being.
Some people lean toward the truth. They say, “The truth is important; I’m going to tell them no matter what, even if they can’t handle it, even if it’s unkind.” But truth spoken without love becomes dead orthodoxy. It may be true, but there’s no life in it. It may lack in graciousness and kindness.
Truth spoken without love becomes dead orthodoxy.
On the other hand, love without truth can be nothing more than empty sentimentalism. It might make a person feel good for a moment, but it won’t actually make them better off in the long run. If we’re not telling the truth, we’re not really helping people.
If you lie to me, you’re hurting me. And if you tell the truth without caring about me, I may know the truth, but I may be worse for it because I’m reacting to you rather than the information. That’s why love and truth must be balanced in our communication.
Love and truth must be balanced in our communication.
If we connect the truth with love, then we convey the right information with the right heart. And then we can build someone up. Truth may sometimes need to be sharp as a sword, but when administered in love it is the balm that soothes and heals a heart.