11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15. ESV)
As Christians, we are called by Jesus to speak the truth in love. Not only is this a daunting task, but it is often an overlooked one. In my experience, there is a tendency among Christians to fall into one of two ditches in regards to speaking the truth in love. What I mean by a ditch is: when we as Christians have an unbalanced and inconsistent view of a biblical truth, we fall into a ditch. One of the most common instances of Christians falling into a ditch occurs when too much emphasis is put on love, at the expense of truth. When the biblical definition of love is applied correctly, being loving will never be at odds with speaking the truth. But all too often, the biblical definition of love is neglected and replaced with a secular definition. Let me be clear, I’m not asserting that love shouldn’t be an integral part of our lives, on the contrary. The Bible clearly commands us to love one another (see 1 Peter 4:8) and to bear with one another in love (see Ephesians 4:2), but the trouble starts when in our quest to love one another we disregard truth. When in fact the Bible states that we show our love by speaking the truth (see 1 John 3:18). Often Christians will hold back the truth with the excuse that Jesus said not to judge. The passage of scripture being referred to is found in Matthew 7:1-3. If you take into account the full context of this passage, which we as Christians ought to do, you’ll then discover that Jesus is not making a blanket statement that we should never judge, but He says that the standard we judge by will be the same standard we are judged. Judge with righteous judgment and speak the truth because biblical love cannot stay silent. I encourage you to love one another as God commands us, but in doing that, do not disregard truth, otherwise you’ll fall into the ditch I’m talking about. The second ditch that I want to address is the idea that all you need is truth. Once again, I am not suggesting that truth is not important; in fact without truth we are not capable of truly loving someone. The Bible continually makes reference to the importance of truth (see John 17:17) and the necessity to not only love in what we say, but also in our actions and in truth (see 1 John 3:18). If you’re anything like me, you put enormous weight on the necessity to speak and understand biblical truth. Sometimes in our vigor for truth we become unbalanced in our approach and end up sounding like a clanging cymbal, this is when we fall into a ditch (1 Corinthians 13:1). It’s important to remember that we are all susceptible to fall into either one of these ditches. The extreme examples I gave probably don’t reflect the way you approach these truths. but all of us in one form or another have natural inclinations to sway towards love at the expense of truth or toward truth at the expense of love. When in fact, God has created a marvelous design in which these two things work in perfect harmony. A balanced view of the scripture is essential in the Christian worldview. Without it, we can apply some scriptural truth that are in line with God ordained tendencies and disregard truths that seem to daunting to apply. I would encourage you this week, to identify the ditches into which you have a tendency to fall. Seek the Lord through prayer and His word, that you may have a well-rounded approach in applying His truth to your daily life.