I recently wrote a piece titled the Law of Love. I expressed the incredible importance of leading with Love, and truly extending God’s unconditional love to ALL people. But, I also said that (in my opinion), you can’t have Love without Truth, or Truth without Love. The two go hand in hand, and it’s hard to talk about one without mentioning the other. So here’s the sister piece to the Law of Love . . . called To Tell the Truth . . .
To understand the full extent of God’s Love for us, you would have to read His most intimate letter to us- the Bible. I believe the Bible to be Truth- not some of it, not just the parts I agree with, not just the parts that have cool scriptures . . . but ALL of it. My life is faaaarrrr from perfect- even on a good day I could be classified as a “Hot Mess” by most! LOL! However, I have watched my life, and the lives of those I love, transform through our relationship with God. So it should come as no surprise that, after experiencing such pure joy and love, I would want to share that with everyone I know. I mean, who wouldn’t want to share an experience like that? It’s like going on an amazing vacation and not sharing your experience with anyone. Or like eating the most amazing meal, and then not telling anyone about it – and that, my friends, is just plain evil! LOL!
Sharing something that has had a positive impact isn’t the problem. The problem these days is that many people feel this innate desire to shove what they believe to be truth down the throats of anyone within earshot (or keyboard shot, sadly). In doing so, they have done the exact opposite of what we are called to do as Christians. They have hurt people, judged people, pushed people away, largely misrepresented what it means to be a follower of Christ, and worst of all . . . created division. The Word is said to be our Sword – not for fighting one another, but for fighting against the things that hold us down and keep us from all that God has placed inside of us- EACH of us. The Bible, and all that it contains, should never be used as a tool of destruction of others, but rather as a tool of restoration and redemption.
While I believe that we are all ambassadors to the cross, I strongly feel that there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes it’s necessary to speak up, and let people know God’s Truth in an act of love. Other times, though, it’s ok to just sit still, be silent, and simply love on people right where they are, for all that they are. Actions really do speak louder than words, and living out the example set for us by Jesus will impact our world far greater than any scripture spitting contest.
That said, here are my tips for speaking Truth in Love :
- Don’t Spit Scripture. If you find yourself being prompted to speak truth over someone, make sure you are actually speaking God’s truth and not just a random scripture that you just happen to really like. Talk to your pastors, Godly relationships, and most importantly, talk to God BEFORE you speak. Let Him reveal His truths to you as you comb through the Bible. Know the backstory of the scripture you are quoting, and spend some time thinking about its context. The more genuine you are, and the more relevance you can create for someone in their current situation, the more impactful you will be for God.
- Let God Do the Talking. Too often, some people feel the need to viciously defend their faith, and defend God. They forget that God has His own voice, and He is very good at revealing Himself on His own. It’s our job to lead people into a relationship with Him, so they can learn His truths directly from Him. Defending and denouncing are two completely different things. Staying quiet DOES NOT mean you aren’t defending God. There is a time and a place to speak up, and sometimes staying quiet speaks volumes. Too many earthly voices speaking at once will only drown out the One Voice that truly needs to be heard. . . and friends, let us never forget . . . He speaks in a whisper. Don’t get me wrong, defending our faith is a must in some situations, but do it with grace and wisdom if the time arises. If you do feel like someone is attacking God or your faith, REMEMBER: God has been around FOREVER. His Word is the most accurately reproduced piece of writing on Earth. The Body of Christ has only continued to grow over the last several thousand years- not because of people viciously defending God, but because of people living out the love of Jesus, letting NOTHING divide them from His Love. Remind yourself that He is the one considered Mighty Counselor, not you. 🙂
- You Don’t Change People, God Does & You Don’t Have to Agree to Love. We don’t have to champion things we disagree with, but we also don’t have to shove our views in people’s faces. Don’t be a judge of people, be a lover. It’s ok to disagree with someone, but don’t vocalize that in an attempt to change them or their mind. Being vicious only makes you look bad, while at the same time confirming any negative thoughts they had about Christianity. Remember that you don’t have the power to change people’s minds, hearts, or choices – but God does. Only He can stir up change. Instead of thinking that this responsibility falls on you, drop your pride, humble yourself, and simply recognize your place in His picture. You hold the coveted position of outreach- the ability to love people right where they are, as they are, is what will draw them to God. Don’t assume that your agenda is God’s agenda. Simply love, then seek Him for the best course of action. Hands and feet, friends – be the reach.
- SPEAK LOVE FIRST. Above everything, we love. Jesus led by example, and he genuinely, deeply loved EVERYONE. Furthermore, he let everyone KNOW that he loved them . . . right where they were. Their current lifestyle, or stage of life, didn’t matter to Jesus, and it shouldn’t matter to us. What Jesus cared about the most, was the person and his relationship with them. People followed Jesus because he LOVED them, they could feel that, so they trusted him. Likewise, people will not listen to what we have to say if we don’t first show them that they are loved just as they are. Love leads to trust, trust leads to intrigue, intrigue leads to seeking. And when you seek, you will find . . . so LOVE FIRST.
I will not pretend to know the first thing about God’s plan for our lives, but I can stand firmly on the notion that God is Love. Truth is vitally important, but we aren’t the only method of delivery. It’s so important for us NOT to act on emotion and fear, but rather love and humility.
I love what Paul says in the following verses from Philippians. When he and Timothy wrote this letter, they were writing to people that were already followers of Christ. Peter is very specific in his plea that the people of Christ demonstrate love. I find this letter to be an incredible demonstration of speaking Truth in Love because that’s exactly what Paul did. He was imprisoned, but he continued to speak of the Love of God. He was kind and confident; he didn’t boast or brag. He was simple in his delivery and steadfast in his pursuit. Paul didn’t react in spite, he simply acted out of love- even to the men that imprisoned him.
Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:11 MSG
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:3 MSG
I challenge you to read the book of Philippians some time this week. It’s a shorter book, but it’s so full of wonderful examples of how to speak Truth in Love. I encourage you not to let the current state of our country (or your Social Media Feed) blur your focus. Stay fixed on the Love of Jesus, reach out and LOVE other people. Put your differences and disagreements aside. Don’t expect from the government what God has commissioned of His people. Be the Light. Be the Love . . .